Food Culture in France

France. Cartography by Bookcomp, Inc.

Food Culture in


Food Culture around the World Ken Albala, Series Editor

GREENWOOD PRESS Westport, Connecticut · London

paper) 1.A237 2007 641.5'944—dc22 2006031524 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available. Title. TX719. by any process or technique. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 The publisher has done its best to make sure the instructions and/or recipes in this book are correct. However. users should apply judgment and experience when preparing recipes. cm.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Abramson. The publisher accepts no responsibility for the outcome of any recipe included in this volume. Food culture in France / Julia Abramson. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2006031524 ISBN-10: 0–313–32797–1 ISBN-13: 978–0–313–32797–1 ISSN: 1545–2638 First published in 2007 Greenwood Press. ISSN 1545–2638) Includes bibliographical references and index. especially parents and teachers working with young people. I. ISBN 0–313–32797–1 (alk. www. 2. p. Julia.48–1984). Food habits— Printed in the United States of America The paper used in this book complies with the Permanent Paper Standard issued by the National Information Standards Organization (Z39. CT 06881 An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group. French.greenwood. Cookery. No portion of this book may be reproduced. without the express written consent of the publisher. Copyright © 2007 by Julia Abramson All rights reserved. 88 Post Road West.—(Food culture around the world. Inc. . Westport.

Eating Out 6. Typical Meals 5. Cooking 4. Historical Overview 2. Special Occasions 7. Diet and Health vii ix xi xiii 1 41 81 103 117 137 155 169 171 175 185 Glossary Resource Guide Selected Bibliography Index . Major Foods and Ingredients 3.Contents Series Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction Timeline 1.


and Diet and Health. and develop unique cuisines reveals much more about what it is to be human. Historical Overview. In comprehensive interdisciplinary reference volumes. Typical Meals. its values. a remarkable team of experts from around the world offers a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role of food in shaping human culture for a whole new generation. Special Occasions. Cooking. There is perhaps no better way to understand a culture. Food provides the daily sustenance around which families and communities bond. Each volume follows a series format. and foodies alike. than by examining its attitudes toward food. come to esteem or shun specific foods. general readers. Food preferences also serve to separate individuals . Finding or growing food has of course been the major preoccupation of our species throughout history. Eating Out. bibliography. resource guide. and illustrations. each on the food culture of a country or region for which information is most in demand. with a chronology of food-related dates and narrative chapters entitled Introduction. Each also includes a glossary.Series Foreword The appearance of the Food Culture around the World series marks a definitive stage in the maturation of Food Studies as a discipline to reach a wider audience of students. but how various peoples around the world learn to exploit their natural resources. I am honored to have been associated with this project as series editor. Major Foods and Ingredients. It provides the material basis for rituals through which people celebrate the passage of life stages and their connection to divinity. preoccupations. and fears.

we wish to keep alive.viii Series Foreword and groups from each other. It is my hope that readers will gain from these volumes not only an aesthetic appreciation for the glories of the many culinary traditions described. whether from our own heritage or that of others. In many cases these books describe ways of eating that have already begun to disappear or have been seriously transformed by modernity. understanding these food traditions helps us to understand the people themselves. we physically. By studying the foodways of people different from ourselves we also grow to understand and tolerate the rich diversity of practices around the world. and as one of the most powerful factors in the construction of identity. but also about ourselves and who we hope to be. What seems strange or frightening among other people becomes perfectly rational when set in context. or going out to a famous Michelin-starred restaurant in France. emotionally and spiritually become what we eat. These books are thus not only about the food and culture of peoples around the world. As globalization proceeds apace in the twenty-first century it is also more important than ever to preserve unique local and regional traditions. To know how and why these losses occur today also enables us to decide what traditions. Whether it is eating New Year’s dumplings in China. Ken Albala University of the Pacific . but also ultimately a more profound respect for the peoples who devised them. folding tamales with friends in Mexico.

I have been traveling regularly to France to live and work. I am grateful to Kyri Watson Claflin. senior editor at the Press. This book is for them. made it possible for me to write this book. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson. Young shared with me their enthusiasm for French food and have steadfastly encouraged mine. and precision to what must have seemed like endless questions about her family life. many people have opened their doors to me and shared their meals and food lore. Charlotte and Franç ois more than anyone else have taught me what it means to eat à la française. I am profoundly grateful for this hospitality and for these many personalized introductions to the food cultures of France. In this time. Ken Albala.Acknowledgments For two decades and more. and Carolin C. that to my cousin Charlotte Berger-Grenèche and to Franç ois Depoil is by far the greatest. convivial. Layla Roesler responded with grace. and it is for my parents. Barbara Ketcham Wheaton. Of all my debts. Beatrice Fink. and Wendi Schnaufer. wit. Discerning eaters and accomplished cooks. who nourished my interest in food from the very beginning. Alison Matthews-David. and Charles Walton. who read drafts of these chapters. Thanks are due to the wonderfully supportive community of scholars interested in food history and in France. generous hosts. editor for the Greenwood Press world food culture series. and thoughtful participants in the culture of their own country. to research and write. Through her good humor this book has been much enriched. Norman Stillman. . their conversation and friendship.

Finally. hard work. colleagues and students at the university where I have taught for the last seven years have supported my engagement in the study of food history and cultures. Zev Trachtenberg. . My warm thanks especially to Hervé Depoil for doing le maxi. They have been generous beyond measure for the sake of friendship. and Christian Verdet. Andy Horton. and Linguistics). and frank questions. and of course to Sarah Tracy. Many of the passages in this book were written with my students in mind. Literatures. and conversation across cultures. Helga Madland. food. For their enthusiastic participation. Nadine Leick. At the University of Oklahoma a special thank you goes to Paul Bell. Arnold Matthews.x Acknowledgments For the photographs I am indebted to Philippe Bornier. Janine Depoil. I thank the undergraduate students who have taken my seminars on food and culture (Honors College) and on French food and film (Program in Film and Video Studies) and the graduate students in my course on French gastronomic literature (Department of Modern Languages. and their questions usually led us all directly to the heart of the matter. Edward Sankowski. Pamela Genova. Their unfailing intellectual curiosity fueled my own enthusiasm for the topics covered in this volume. Hervé Depoil.

Arm-chair travelers will have read the great American chronicles of life and food in France. The subtle coherence of flavors and the dignified unfolding of the several-course meals that are now standard are at once seductive. the many French cookbooks published in the United States since the mid-twentieth century have guided experiments in the kitchen.F.Introduction Nearly every American has some idea about French food. people are much . and Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. generations of resourceful cooks have perfected ingenious yet practical ways of transforming the meanest bits of meat and aging root vegetables into rich stews. For curious home cooks. Of course. M. nourishing soups. glamorous restaurant meal is often a French one. For those who have traveled abroad. Fisher’s memoirs. a few clichés persist. and stimulating. as well. it is an error to imagine that these murky creatures play a large role in everyday eating. For those who dine out. Nonetheless. a plate of silky foie gras. such as Samuel Chamberlain’s columns in the early issues of Gourmet magazine. and tantalizing sausages. soothing. the ideal for an elegant. or a fragrant piece of baguette still warm from the oven has perhaps been a gastronomic revelation. Snails and frogs feature in the cuisine. affluence has reshaped the diet for much of the French population. however.K. a bite of milky crisp fresh almond. The export of Champagne and adaptations of the breakfast croissant have made these items standard units in the international food currency. What interested eater would not be moved by French food? In poorer kitchens. Since the Second World War.

Throughout. The recipes that appear in the text correspond to a few of the typical dishes that come under discussion. yet in fact enjoy an unusually high standard of health. That the French drink only rarefied bottled spring waters (when not drinking wine)is in fact one of the new myths. The chapters that follow draw on a wide range of sources. to recent studies by ethnologists and sociologists. Bonne lecture (happy reading) and bon appétit! . public policy addressing food quality. at noon.xii Introduction more likely to shop for food at one of the many discount stores than at picturesque outdoor markets. the book also treats the issues of why and how foods are eaten. attitudes toward health. trends in restaurant cooking. celebration meals. The bibliography at the end of the volume lists the references consulted for each chapter and includes a list of cookbooks. secular individualists march practically in lockstep to the dining room. and changing views of wine. from cookbooks and personal experience. To understand the full significance of the table customs. when the country actually has the best-developed and most heavily used canteen system in Europe? Food Culture in France answers these questions and many others. an attempt is made to provide both the historical information necessary to illuminate contemporary food culture and full descriptions of today’s practices. as a nation? Why. to the writings of historians and cultural critics. does this population of productive. hard-working. rather than appearing on the table all at once? How is it possible to eat this succession of foods without becoming uncomfortably full. So what do the 60 million French of today really eat on a daily basis? Here is the essential question that this book addresses. It is hoped that these resources as well as the selection of Web sites and films will provide the reader with a point of departure for further exploration. the approach is inclusive. and desperately unhealthy. As the aim has been to provide a three-dimensional picture of food customs. over time? How is it that the French cultivate pleasure rather than count calories. including workday meals. from meal to meal. although these are practically a national treasure. Why is it that the different dishes in an everyday meal are eaten successively in separate courses. causing nearly everything from Dunkerque to Cannes to grind to a halt for the sacred lunch break? Why do the French themselves regard eating lunch in school and business cafeterias as an anomaly.

Greek merchants from Phocaea establish a colony at Massilia (Marseille) where they plant olive trees for oil and grape vines for wine. including snails.000–14.E. goats.C. The bow and arrow. Reindeer retreat to colder northern regions. Iron Age Celts fit iron cutting edges on ploughs used to till soil.E.C. 30. and the companionship of domesticated dogs. 8000 B.Timeline ca.C. corn. make hunting easier.000 B. Forests provide berries.C.000–9000 B. and hazelnuts. improving farm production. Forest animals such as deer and wild boar multiply.E. 16. Food sources change as glaciers recede. cattle. 800 B. barley. chestnuts. elements in the Mediterranean diet.E.E. . 6000 B.C. Domesticates include sheep. Charcoal and ochre drawings of bulls and reindeer in the Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne show main Ice Age food sources.000 B. 10. Humans eat mollusks. and millet. Old Stone Age nomads hunt big game and gather plants for food.C.C.E. 600 B. New Stone Age people farm and tend herds.E. ca.

forces Saracen warriors to retreat from the southern territories. geese (Artois). In The History of the Franks (593–94). The Salic legal code issued in Paris under King Clovis specifies punishments for anyone who attacks a neighbor’s grape vines. Gallic regional specialties include grain (Beauce).E. one of Charlemagne’s paladins. Renaissance elites are conspicuous consumers.C.E.xiv 51 B. 481–511 C.000 cubic yards) of water to urban areas. cumin. and wine (Roussillon. 1317 1341 1468 .E. Timeline Julius Caesar annexes Gallic lands to the Empire. Famine forces innovation in bread-making. Flemish and Italian merchants arrive with spices and other exotics. ginger.C. People clear forest and drain marshland to cultivate grains for bread. Legend has it that he concealed his troops in wine barrels. and sugar. Saint William of Gellone. mace and nutmeg. City and monastic trade fairs in the Champagne region are international. The Roman-engineered Pont-du-Gard aqueduct daily transports 20. 585 780 822 1000–1300 1110 1148. 1204 1150–1310 1315. The population grows. Languedoc). The site becomes the market Les Halles. Cannibalism and crime follow widespread famines. Louis VI (The Fat) allows fishmongers to set up stands outside his palace walls in Paris. cloves. The Valois monarch Philip VI (1293–1350) introduces the grande gabelle (salt tax) in the north. sheep (Ardennes).000 cubic meters (about 26. The feast for Charles the Bold of Burgundy’s wedding 19 B. chronicler Gregory of Tours notes that people supplemented wheat flour with pounded grape seeds and ferns. making true beer. cardamom. A Roman-style forum or market and public meeting space is added to each Gallic town. Knights and soldiers return from the First and Second Crusades bringing lemons and spices: saffron. The abbot Adalhard of Corbie records that monks are adding hops flowers to their ale. cinnamon.

Henri IV (1589–1610) declares his wish that “every peasant may have a chicken in the pot on Sundays. Physicist Denys Papin. peppers. invents the pressure cooker. chocolate. Coffee is sold at a temporary café at the St.600 shoulders of mutton.100 peacocks. François Pierre de La Varenne publishes the cookbook Le Cuisinier françois. 1486 1492–1494. 1. Within the decade the Café Procope.500 sheep. the first successful café in France and still in business today. 2.640 pigeons.668 wolves.640 swans. 18. and vanilla. will open in Paris. but Louis XIV (1643–1715) uses his fingers to eat. The “digester” efficiently reduces solid foods nearly to liquid. Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus encounters foods hitherto unknown in the Old World: sweet potatoes. Massive feasts are central to the social satire. serves coffee at Versailles. about a race of giants. 3. Courtiers now use forks.000 pounds of lard. Protestants flee. Suleiman Aga. he privileges herbs and onions over spices.500 calves. 1502 1534 ca.” Hunger and poverty are widespread. in residence in England. but chaircutiers (charcutiers) sell cooked and cured pork and raw pork fat. Peasant families who survived the bubonic plague and Hundred Years War and Wars of Religion clear land to plant new crops: cold-hardy buckwheat and New World maize. The manuscript Le Viandier by Guillaume de Tirel (Taillevent) appears in print as an early cookbook. Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes (1598). 2. 11. Germain fair. and 1. 1600 1606 1651 1667 1669 1672 1681 1685 . maize. 63 pigs. 2.Timeline xv includes 200 oxen. For flavoring. 3. and the country reverts to strict observance of Catholic feast and fast days.800 chickens. Turkish ambassador to the court of Louis XIV. 1476 King Louis XI (1461–1483) decrees that butchers slaughter pigs and sell raw pork. Physician and priest François Rabelais publishes the novel Gargantua.

The National Assembly abolishes the hated and much-abused salt tax. Modern-style restaurants. diplomat. Louis XV (1715–1774) favors small. bishop. la gabelle. which costs nearly 60 percent of their income. and a mob retorts by attacking the Bastille prison.xvi 1709 1735 Timeline An unusually cold winter sets in early and kills crops. with menus and private tables. Rioting abounds during the Revolution and hunger is prevalent. Famine and grain riots break out. he has been eating several-course meals while famine plagues France. The 1760s 1775 1785 1787 1789 1790 1793 1803 1804 1808 1814–1815 . In prison since late January 1791. Grimod de la Reynière publishes the first narrative restaurant guide for Paris.” Pictures of apples and cider bottles in Normandy and ducks at Alençon visually connect taste to place. They concede to his demands for the restored Bourbon monarch. With the help of Louis XVI. Most people subsist on bread. intimate suppers over state banquets and personally makes omelets and coffee for selected guests. Louis XVIII. Two years later he modernizes the meal: he recommends serving dishes one by one in sequence. and fruits to provision Napoleon’s troops. Peasants and urban dwellers riot to protest grain shortages. the naturalist AntoineAuguste Parmentier promotes the still-unpopular potato as an alternative to grains. and noted gourmand CharlesMaurice de Talleyrand-Périgord wines and dines European ministers. At the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic wars. open in Paris. Louis XVI sends troops against the newly formed National Assembly. so that they can be enjoyed hot. Louis XVI dies at the guillotine. Cadet de Gassicourt publishes a “gastronomic map. vegetables. He preserves meats. Nicolas Appert opens a vacuum-bottling factory.

and Morocco (1912). the technology that was the basis for the first industrial refrigerators.Timeline xvii great chef Marie-Antoine Carême is Talleyrand’s right-hand man for political strategy at table. 1859 1861 1870 1870s 1883 1892 1903 1905 1919 1927 1940 1943 . Import duties on sugar make it unaffordable to most. The colonial empire will expand to include Senegal (1857). Life expectancy drops by eight years. Tunisia (1881). 1830 French forces take Algiers. The black market for food flourishes. Food prices are at a premium. which simplifies and systematizes the sauces and cooking methods that compose elegant cuisine. Grape phylloxerae devastate vines across France. Prussian troops occupy the capital.200 calories per day per person. Meat prices escalate. Jules Méline draws up protectionist tariffs for agricultural production. The network of trains encourages peasants to farm beyond self-sufficiency and to specialize. with several-course meals served in elegant restaurant cars. The Orient Express makes its inaugural run from Paris to Constantinople. Under German occupation during the Vichy period. The law will stand until it is integrated into the European food safety code in 1993. Louis Pasteur applies heat and pressure to sterilize milk. Bread is rationed.” France capitulates to Germany during the Second World War. Parliament rules that only wine bottled within the demarcated Champagne area may be labeled as “Champagne. Indochina (1859–1863). Chef Auguste Escoffier publishes Le guide culinaire. rationing allows for 1. A new federal law prohibits fraud in the sale of food. and desperate Parisians resort to eating zoo animals. Ferdinand Carré demonstrates his ammonia absorbtion unit.

To protest against junk food and the presence of foreign corporate interests in the local food chain. 1965 1977 1990s 1999 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 . The law (of August 2004) that called for this measure aimed to reduce the consumption of sweets and sugared drinks associated with rising obesity levels among children and young people. All automatic vending machines are gone from public schools by the time the fall term begins. avoids salt and animal fats. globalization. Press reports defend the national cuisine in a society marked by Europeanization. the First Empire restaurant guide author. and favors lean meats. and fruits. Half of all French households own a refrigerator. Avian flu detected in chickens in Pas-de-Calais. The Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris serves its onemillionth canard à presse (roasted pressed duck). vegetables.xviii 1949 Timeline Bread rationing is lifted. Chef Paul Bocuse and baker Lionel Poilâne unsuccessfully lobby Pope John Paul II to remove gourmandise (gluttony) from the list of the Seven Deadly Sins.” Robert Courtine’s pseudonym evokes Grimod de la Reynière. He emphasizes small portions. Consumption of chicken drops in March. farmer José Bové vandalizes a partially constructed McDonald’s restaurant in Millau. Chef Michel Guérard serves cuisine minceur—light or diet food—at his spa and restaurant. and the presence of immigrant cultures. The weekly newspaper Le Monde runs a column on dining called “The Pleasures of the Table” signed “La Reynière. then rises again. Debate continues over whether genetically modified foods and advertising for fast food should be banned in France and Europe.

E. mammoths—that probably had spiritual significance. sheep. in addition to hunting. they stored extra grain in pits dug into the ground and in pots.C. The innovations of agriculture and pottery that define the Neolithic period came west from the Fertile Crescent to Europe in about 6000 B. nuts.C. These hunter-gatherers foraged in field and forest for berries.000 B.E. Paleolithic or Old Stone Age (earliest times to 6000 B. and goats were also kept and may have been moved according to the same practice of transhumance. rhinoceros.1 Historical Overview ORIGINS The earliest peoples in what is now France likely garnered the largest portion of their food from plants.) paintings on cave walls from about 35.E. People now cultivated emmer and einkorn (old types of wheat) and naked barley. During winter. people made a gradual transition from foraging for food to farming. chickpeas. They herded cattle. Stone Age peoples domesticated dogs as hunting companions. at Lascaux. roots. During the New Stone Age. Font-de-Gaume. About 500.000 to 15. first as wild grasses. Cosquer.C. Peas. and leaves. rye and oats flourished. nomadic forerunners of modern humans ranged north from Africa into western Europe. Around 8000 B.000 years ago. Neolithic populations managed animals. then as tended crops. and lentils came under cultivation. they hunted horses and aurochs.C.E. sometimes grazing the herds seasonally in different locations. . When climate change caused the extinction of big game. Pigs. and Niaux show animal food sources and other creatures—lions. Chauvet. In cooler northern regions.

smoking. pork).C. When the Phocaeans arrived in the new colonies with their vines and fruit. including literary and philosophical traditions and both urban and pastoral ways of life. and then iron (from about 700 B. bringing their eating customs and essential foods. shell. For the common person.C. and shellfish were eaten. flint.E. beaver. sand. Fish. The ideal diet of classical antiquity was based on three cultivated foods: wheat. In the colonial centers of Greek civilization. The additions strengthened the clay so that the pots could be placed directly on a fire.) mark shifts toward technology that maintained more populous civilizations. lamb. The use of copper. but it was not considered everyday fare. Pulses in the everyday diet . Populations living on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts and on rivers harvested shellfish and fish. drying. including cooking implements. and heating mixtures by dropping in hot rocks. or grog (pulverized burnt clay) as a tempering medium. This added another technique to spit-roasting.E. shared banquet in a private home drank wine mixed with water only after eating. The invention of pottery changed cooking and storage in the New Stone Age. grapes. and quantities of snails added to the list of animal protein eaten in the Neolithic period.C. the building blocks for most meals were barley or wheat and pulses. elite diners participating in a symposion or convivial. Wealthy Greeks loved meat (beef. wine. hedgehog. The end of the Neolithic period saw the incorporation of metals into the arsenal of tools. meat was carefully distributed or else sold off in portions equal in size. During the Age of Metals. and valued conversation as an integral part of the meal.). The grains were eaten as porridge or baked into bread or unleavened biscuit if ovens were available. and the large domesticates were killed ceremonially. After the required sacrifices had been made to appease the gods. a few Phocaeans (Greeks from Asia Minor) looking for new territory established colonies that they called Massilia (Marseille) and Agde. the Greeks had developed the civilization that underpins much of Western culture. bronze (about 1800–700 B. and oil. eels.2 Food Culture in France Boar. GREEKS ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR In about 600 B. and olives. along with the all-purpose salty flavoring sauce garos (Roman garum or liquamen) made of fermented fish. with little concern for cut or texture. this was the earliest introduction of the Mediterranean diet based on bread. hare. Cheese featured frequently in meals. People made wide-mouthed vessels using bits of bone.E.

There is a popular idea that Celts feasted constantly on roast wild boar. garlic. Children know this story from the famous cartoons that Goscinny and Uderzo published beginning in the early 1960s about the rotund character Astérix the Gaul and friends. as well as grains. and grains. The prehistoric Celts (their language was oral) have a special place in the collective imagination as the ancestors of the modern French. They wrought a range of cooking and eating utensils. Celtic civilization was based on farming and animal husbandry.C. and reapers. bowls. and ale. and early forms of cauliflower and lettuce. and capers. plums. which were made into salads and cooked dishes.E. chickpeas.Historical Overview 3 included lentils. and developed advanced metalworking techniques such as soldering and the use of rivets. They cultivated cabbages. the Celts in Gaul probably numbered between 6 and 9 million. They did not construct a unified empire or kingdom. Tribes occupied swathes of land that measured about 1. carrots. It is certainly true that . It appears that they domesticated the hare and species of ducks and geese. gold and silver. and fava or broad beans. Celts ate meat primarily from domesticated oxen or cattle and pigs. At their most populous. Celts in northern Europe mined iron and lead. milk. spits. quinces. harrows. The city of Paris derives its name from the Celtic Parisii tribe that settled in the Île-de-France. horses. cauldrons. and pomegranates were the bestknown fruits. governance was decentralized within tribes headed by a warrior elite and the families that composed each tribe. Many of the Celtic deities such as the matrons or mother-goddesses were associated with fertility and with flowers.000 square kilometers (about 450 to 750 square miles). The land was left as open fields that members of the tribe worked in common. they manufactured innovative iron ploughs. including places for eating out such as kapêleia or taverns that served wine and inexpensive bar food. CELTIC ANCESTORS Tribes of Indo-Europeans that originated in Hallstadt (present-day Austria) and swept west by around 700 B. To support farming. so did their institutions. and dogs were less common. Sheep. cups. goats. including flagons. grills. gourds. Greeks brought with them knowledge of the all-important vegetables onion. apples. As the cities grew. developed a diet based on meat. Figs and grapes.200 to 2. including a benevolent druid. the Romans would name them Gauls. Rather. giving the name Celts. fruits. and serving platters. pears. The Greeks called these peoples Galatai or Keltoi.

drying. and brewed ale (beer without hops) from grain. and slaves with neighboring tribes and with other populations. In 52 B. Meats.E. Exposed to wooden barrels. and tools. For food. Ties between the Celtic and the Mediterranean civilizations enlarged the diets. Butchers specialized in making hams and sausages and were greatly admired for their facility with curing pork. Stored in amphorae. They cultivated some grapes in the north. and smoking. Celts. Celts traded metal jewelry.C.C. Urban Romans were consumers in need of provisions.C. the Greek writer from Naucratis (Egypt) who moved to Rome at the end of the first century.E. ROMAN GAUL The fertile.C. the first imperial dynasty was established in 27 B.. ingots. fat from meat and milk (lard. and the constantly campaigning legions of the vast military machine required a solid diet of wheat bread. The familiarity bred by commerce between the different populations also prepared the way for Rome’s annexation of Celtic lands to the Empire in 51 B.E. for their part. but hunting was restricted to elites. coins. amber and salt. Syria. subsuming far-off Dacia (Romania). Rome ballooned. productive Celtic territories were a temptation not to be resisted by the Romans. butter). meat products. and Arabia as provinces. cheese.. he won a decisive victory against the Gallic . provoked ravenous Rome. North Africa. the tribes relied on their fields and barnyards. and Celts hunted them in self-defense. The legions butted heads with the tribes for two centuries before the general Julius Caesar was sent to quell them. hides from their animals. Celts used wooden barrels for more convenient storage and transport. drank milk from their herds. Where the Greeks and Romans kept wine in amphorae (clay jars).” nearest Rome) populations sacked Rome in 387 (or 390) B.4 Food Culture in France wild boar roamed the forests. wine took on the pitchy or resinous flavor of the jar seal. as they periodically migrated in search of land.E. They mined salt and developed techniques for preserving meat and fish through salting. wine drunk by the Celts must have developed some flavors like those prized by today’s oenophiles. 200–230) that the Celts were heavy drinkers who tossed back their wine undiluted with water. remarked in his Deipnosophistae (Professors at Dinner. Bellicose Cisalpine (from “this side of the Alps. ca. wine. and vegetables. but they could not get enough of the heady southern wines that they traded up from Massilia and Rome.E. Athenaeus. They made cheeses. Since the inception of the republic in the fifth century B. meat.C. and cool-weather grains associated with the Celts typified the diet in what later became northern France. and made incursions elsewhere. olive oil.

and bull-fighting. The food at a convivium or dinner party could be elaborate. and so a few people had knowledge of quite exotic foods. the “three Gauls” or large divisions of Celtic territories had become provinces. gastronomic specialties from across the Empire. dry. the Greek physician Galen. with anywhere from two to seven courses. trade enlarged the food choice provided by the local produce. Propped up on their left elbows. Continuing Hippocratic tradition. City walls. they politely touched food only with the right hand. At least for the wealthiest eaters. A cena (fancy dinner) finished with mensae secundae or fruits. For Gallo-Romans. black bile. Nîmes. operas. and Arles are still used today for concerts. Wealthy citizens designed their houses to follow the Roman style. A year later. Sophisticated wine drinkers tracked yearly variations in quality. with a courtyard and triclinium or dining room. and eggs. soft and hard wheats. Amphitheatres at Orange. nuts. and the oppida or hill-forts for civitates or administrative structures. Beyond the Rhine lay Germania and to the south Provincia (later Narbonnensis) and Cisalpina. Roman trade provided links even to India and China. recommended choosing foods with qualities (hot. The colony at Massilia was a destination for Romans as for Romanized Celts—Gallo-Romans—who sought an education and cosmopolitan finish. with the usual military outposts throughout. and the remains of public baths also persist. Emmer. The Romans did much to unify and urbanize Celtic lands. yellow bile. and the agricultural riches of Gaul itself. Elegant diners reclined rather than sat. The mensae primae (main course or courses) offered meats and poultry and were accompanied by wine mixed with water. aqueducts (such as the Pont-du-Gard and those built to supply Vienne). which were supposed to be balanced through diet. wet) appropriate for one’s personal balance of the four bodily humors (blood. and desserts. The gustatio or promulsis (first course) featured vegetables. Eating customs evolved from the Roman adaptations of Greek precedents. cold. The Romans built roads for their military but also to the benefit of traders. and spelt were available in Gaul. fish. Using the old tribal divisions of land as a basis for latifundia or large farms with attached estates.Historical Overview 5 leader Vercingétorix. They undertook huge public projects in durable stone for the cities. Greek ways were considered the most elegant and civilized. they centralized political conduits. dining habits at their most luxurious drew on Greek manners. plays. phlegm) as the way to maintain good health. attitudes toward diet and health were shaped by the prevailing theory of the humors. who worked in the Roman context during the second century. and they sought vintages from the best locations across the . Among the educated. Rivers demarcated Gallia Belgica from Celtica (later Gallia Lugdunensis) and Aquitania.

arbutus fruits. In the late third and fourth centuries. cucumbers. Other herbs included rosemary. caraway. traded from India in exchange for gold. apples. partridges. Germanic Visigoths crossed out of Italy and were settled in Gallic Aquitaine. Federations and alliances already existed among Germans. Domestic sheep. Sorb apples (related to serviceberries). Figs. juniper berries (native to Gaul). asparagus. and famine added to the general unrest and misery.or smoke-dried raisins were basics. sea urchin. mallow. pears. goats. some were used in perfumes. the Celtic heritage echoes primarily in words that pertain to agriculture and in place names. thyme. decadent emperors. grapes. and pine nuts (pine kernels) were eaten. rue. chestnuts. walnuts. In the modern language. plague. FRANKS FROM RHINELAND As the exhausted. hazelnuts. and wild boar and deer caught on the hunt were prized. Guinea fowl (originally from Numidia). Today. hens. oysters from present-day Brittany and Normandy were esteemed a delicacy. lovage nearly always combined with black or long pepper. turnips. peaches (from Persia). saffron. bringing a new wave of northern influence on diet. Visigoths. Gallic elites left the cities. parsley. By about the fifth century. Snails were popular. wrasse. celery seed. the few remaining Breton speakers trace their culture back to the Celts. and beets. sour cherries. there were leeks. lettuces. mint. preparing the way for the development of French. and Gallo-Romans. cumin. The list of fruits and nuts grew ever longer as produce was imported from afar.6 Food Culture in France provinces. and scallops. The Mediterranean gave fish and shellfish including mackerel. Among the herbs and spices. rocket. crushing taxes. overextended Roman Empire crumbled during the fourth century. The tribal leader Odoacer the Goth deposed the last Roman emperor in the . myrtle. pistachios. mustard. pennyroyal. During the fifth century. gourds. Spices were valued as flavorings in elite cooking. Latin penetrated even to rural areas. Germanic tribes crossed west over the Rhine River to settle in Gaul. and cows gave milk for cheese as well as meat. contributing to urban decline. bay. and sun. During the last imperial centuries. tuna. and Burgundians. Garum or fish sauce—made off the Atlantic coast from fermented mackerel and tuna—and allec or fish pickle were common. and coriander. octopus. dates. the Romans encouraged British Celts to migrate back to the Continent to defend depopulated Brittany. The Roman army that defeated Attila the Hun in 451 near Troyes was anchored by tribal Germans—Franks. and pheasant gave eggs and provided roasts. Celts. For vegetables. bass.

although lower in yield and in gluten than wheat. They hunted game and ate domesticated meat. This is clear . like the Celts. They steadfastly preferred their own butter and lard over southern olive oil. the favored beverage. and made ale. Hardy spelt. some Germanic pagan rites required the conspicuous display of ale casks in the middle of dwellings. and the men also used butter to condition their characteristic long hair and flowing beards. But it was the powerful Franks who exerted the most lasting influence within future French territory. grew wheat and barley. They took pride in Gallic particularities and in the classical heritage. Both Romans and Christians complained about the reek of rancid butter that was said to announce a German. Franks made hard cider from apples and grew rye. they farmed and herded in the intervening years. Romanized Gauls considered themselves elegant and civilized. They fished. as well as in their own discernment. was the preferred grain. including poultry. West in 476. which they thought gave them strength to wage war.Historical Overview 7 Shellfish merchant bringing coastal oysters and mussels to the Saint Antoine market in Lyon. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. using barley or oats to thicken the mixture. Although the Franks made periodic migrations. They roasted meat and made stews. gathered berries and nuts from the forests. in contrast to the Germans.

fighters. . Christianity penetrated first in the southern parts of Gaul where the Germanic traditions held less sway. Of these. Christianity had the greatest staying power. 534). while noble Rome had turned uncivilized. The rejection of meats. though formidable. Yet he observed that educated and well-born individuals around him were casting their lot with the Goths and Franks. it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The practice of self-denial and also self-definition through the refusal of habits perceived as typical characterized the early Christian approach to food. in particular of the lamb that Jews offered up in temples. Christian ritual was overlaid on pagan celebrations of grain and the harvest. addressed to the Frankish king Theuderic (d. In the first and second centuries. instead of meat. His pastoral poem Mosella catalogues the edible fish in the tributary of the Rhine named in the title (the Moselle). Romans characterized Germans as uncouth rustics and fickle. Yet Anthimus makes concessions to the intended reader and the available food supply. whose writings date to about 440. As part of the Catholic rite of communion. Roman fish sauce is categorically forbidden. Ceremonial cups of wine were drunk throughout. Bread was preferred over meat.1 A century later. acquired a powerful symbolic association to sacrifice in Christianity. draws on the cookbook author Apicius for recipes and on Galen for medical advice.8 Food Culture in France in the fourth-century writings of Decimus Agnus Ausonius. Meats and beer are recommended. they found humane treatment at the hands of the barbarians. and he wrote an encomium to the wines and oysters of his native Bordeaux. had no special liking for the Germans.2 GALLO-CHRISTIANS In Gaul Christian food practices that evolved from Judaic and Mediterranean traditions had the distinguishing cast of asceticism. By the end of the fourth century under Theodosius. the physician and ambassador Anthimus balanced the classical heritage with the Germanic present. mystery religions involving the worship of a dying god (such as Isis or Mithras) who was then reborn became popular. Bread and wine. like the recommendations for sexual abstinence. The disparaging comments should be taken with a grain of salt. A variety of foods were eaten in courses. Early Eucharistic (thanksgiving) meals borrowed from Jewish Passover seders and Greco-Roman banquets. The meatless diet avoided sacrificial carnage. local river salmon and trout are indicated. In a time of unrest. The moralist Salvian of Marseille. Diners reclined. is an example of asceticism as well as a populist touch and concession to necessity. His treatise De observatione ciborum (On the Observance of Foods).

but the ability to host a feast also signaled power. wine in limited quantity. Other days were added in rhythm with the natural seasons and older pagan holidays. saintly figures miraculously abstained from food for long periods. ca. cinnamon. meals were to be taken twice daily in summer and once in winter. Starting in the fourth century. Clerics could not bear arms.” on pain of excommunication. He remained so through the early eighteenth century. If asceticism and fasting characterized early Christianity. In extreme cases. fasting was required for the period before Easter (Lent). fruits or vegetables in season. To be sure. institutional pronouncements set ideals for GalloChristian food practice. was ingested along with a sip of wine. Through symbolism. indulgence featured in monastic feasting. father of monasticism in the West. to consume him. they could entertain elite visitors. Bread and wine evoked the body and blood of Christ. Some won privileges for their monasteries to import luxury foods such as pepper.Historical Overview 9 a piece of bread. Christians fasted for short periods while charitably giving alms and donating food. and to become him. avoiding actual bloodshed while fostering a penchant for the mystical. and Greek and Gallo-Roman conviviality. By miraculous transubstantiation. As the number of monasteries and nunneries increased and bishops consolidated power. . The communicant directly incorporated his god. The principles of inclusion and generosity were not always put into practice. Eucharistic counterpart. eating bread at daily meals recalled its blessed. the bread and wine ostensibly turned into the body and blood of Christ. In defiance of Jewish principles of fellowship. the Rule of Benedict of Nursia (d. monasteries participated in trade networks. early Christian tolerance. Having productive kitchen gardens and well-stocked larders. More commonly. In the early sixth century. The virtuous fasted on Fridays. the rite of communion recast sacrifice on a supernatural level. In later centuries the stock figure of the gluttonous monk became a target for satirists. 540). Outside of church ceremony. servings from two cooked dishes. buying products imported through the Mediterranean ports. and foreign nuts. Despite the Christian principle of disdaining commerce. Benedict prescribed an acceptable diet for a monk as bread. Monks and nuns earned a reputation as food experts. To eat a meal was to commune with fellow Christians and with the Christian god. mandated hospitality to guests and to any pilgrim as a basic tenet of monastic life. later the thin unleavened wafer known as the host. when the power of the Catholic Church in France began to decline. Gallic bishops financed banquets to alleviate the hunger of the poor. but they gave feasts to build up their reputations. the Council of Agde that met in 506 forbade Christians from sharing a meal with “Jews and heretics.

Sophisticated systems of exchange also flourished in the marketplace. Benoît de Cessieu brought in revenue. Maixent. set himself up as protector of the Church and of the faithful. and rank would underpin the feudal castes of the next centuries. At length. wheat. and millet were the most common. Charlemagne waged war to enlarge his dominions across Europe. Carolingian documents describing the abbey at St. made annual gifts to the emperor. Near the Rhine valley. Spices were available. giving rise to the new dynasty of Carolingians. Langres. and St.10 Food Culture in France Feasting and fasting traditions—extreme eating—reflect the natural alternation of cycles of plenty and shortage. Unlike in the Roman era. The Frankish kingships were military. Exotic products show the reach of the trade networks. linked merchants to monasteries and the king. oats and rye became important. a powerful palace mayor (administrator) to the king overthrew his employer. Charlemagne made donations to the Church. as in ancient times and up through the Revolution of 1789. the flesh was impure. and was crowned Emperor on Christmas day in the year 800 by Pope Leo III in Rome. The Christian was burdened with original sin. Barley. The problem was how to define moderation according to Christian principles. The social hierarchy based on landholding. Beer and wine were . personal. and quite ill managed. Pulses complemented the grain. Gall (in present-day Switzerland) indicate a richly provisioned establishment. St. for instance. In the Carolingian era. The acquisition of land cemented power for titled individuals such as counts and dukes. the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish tribal leaders converted to Christianity and shifted the capital from Romanized Lyon to northern. Nobles. and the diet included imports such as lemons and dates. and encouraged international trade. Greeks and Romans explained the need for moderation at table through principles of health. like the Saxons and other peoples conquered in war. How can the duties of the host to be generous reconcile with the obligation of the penitent to live sparingly? CAROLINGIAN RENEWAL After the Roman period. who then exacted tributes from the peasants working their terrain. tied to the seasons and the harvest cycle. Flavigny. Frankish Paris. wealth. Cormery. Monastic fairs at Paris. 768–814). most people relied on grains for food. Tournus. They also reveal contradictions inherent to the Gallo-Christian cult of late antiquity. no system of direct taxation was used. The Frankish liturgy included the ceremonial use of chrism (balsam or balm mixed with oil). For the Christian. the most influential of whom was Charlemagne (r.

communion wine. Water was not dependably safe. butchers. radishes. hydromel (fermented honey drink). Famine was common. and various herbs. miraculously filled a vat with beer just in time for the visit of the abbot who assisted her to found a monastery. West Francia covered much of the territory of contemporary France. Carolingian territories were divided into three parts. spontaneous generation was said to have produced loaves. cheese. and mustard to work carefully in a clean environment.5 The narrative left by his biographer Einhard shows the effort to negotiate customs from Frankish warrior feasts (involving meat from hunted game and plenty of alcohol) with both classical moderation and Christian asceticism.Historical Overview 11 the beverages of choice. ca. Frankish tastes color provisionary miracles of the Merovingian and Carolingian eras. fish. His Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii. It is thanks to Carolingian monastic scribes that many ancient texts are known today. millers. Charlemagne himself was said to have been a careful eater and a moderate drinker.3 Attempting to counter hunger. born near Langres. Hoarding and speculation on grain and wine aggravated shortages. In the feudal era. Dynastic competitions were keen in the Middle Ages. bakers. Charlemagne fixed prices for bread. including the oldest surviving copies of Apicius’s cookbook De re coquinaria (On Cookery. The Capetian kings (r. taken during the ninth century. rocket. In the ninth and tenth centuries. The plants and foods listed in the capitularies were familiar from antiquity. According to the vita or life written in the ninth century. so children also drank diluted alcohols. 605–670). Normans or Norsemen (“northern” or Scandinavian . chickpeas. or holy oil. Difficult conditions fostered tales about the supernatural provision of food and drink. Encouraging agriculture and food production was part of the effort to renew the achievements of imperial Rome within the contemporary Christian empire. fava beans. such as cucumbers. fourth century). mustard. The capitularies listed plants that Charlemagne wanted to be cultivated throughout the empire. beets.4 He exhorted cooks. sought to remedy shortages by improving agriculture. artichokes. or decrees regarding the imperial domains. After the Serment de Strasbourg or Strasbourg Oath of 842. peasants would work land and trades in exchange for protection given by the landowner. turnips. lettuce. 987–1322) expanded their Parisian stronghold to include the counties of Flanders and Boulogne. cervoise (ale). In earlier centuries. but this measure did not hold market rates steady. Saint Sadalberga (ca. cabbages. A warrior class of chevaliers or knights who were supposed to aid the lords and monarch fought their way into that class to obtain their own hereditary titles and landowning rights. and makers of garum.

” The Old French epic Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland) looks back in time to recount a battle against Moors in Spain that was fought during the era of Charlemagne. During the Middle Ages. From the start to the end of the Capetian dynasty. wine became the symbol of Christian France. Writing about the Capetians. the link between Christian succor and wine is recalled by events such as the wine auction held every November at the Hôtel-Dieu or historic hospice in the town of Beaune in Burgundy. authorized by Pope Eugenius IV in 1441 and staffed by nuns. Christian warriors left in droves to crusade against the Muslim “infidel. With the knights conveniently gone on crusade.” Armed knights were apt to skirmish over small slights. Improved food production supported a larger population. . The auction is now commercial. then merged with Aquitaine and Britain to form the powerful Anglo-Norman or Angevin empire. improved use of the soil. During the era of the crusades. however. peasants reclaimed land through cutting forests and draining marshes. Grain farming increased to newly opened fields in the north and east. monks grew grapes and produced wine for medicinal use and to offer to travelers and pilgrims whom the laws of hospitality obliged them to host. The contemporary language of the written version (ca. In the south. New wheeled plows were more versatile and efficient. posing a constant threat to peasants. GRAIN AND SWORDS The agricultural and population expansion that lasted about 300 years until the mid-thirteenth century owed much to the absence of the military class. the counts of Provence defended their territory. They settled in the northwest (today’s Normandy). the population tripled to about 20 million. Today. invaded Britain. priests. Denis forsook the customary phrase “king of the Franks” for the new description “king of France. people imagined “France” as a place and an idea. the abbot Suger of St. 1100). but it was originally conceived to benefit the charity hospital. and the more peaceable nobles. refers to the homeland as la douce France (sweet France). Heavy workhorses bred from Carolingian cavalry animals—the knights’ battle chargers— pulled plows faster than the old-fashioned teams of oxen. with winter and spring plantings next to a fallow field that was sometimes grazed (and thus manured). From its association with pagan Rome and the god Bacchus. so productive at home. After Pope Urban II’s call in 1095 from Clermont-Ferrand to take Jerusalem from the Turks.12 Food Culture in France warriors and sailors) descended in boats to plunder and scout for land. Three-crop rotations.

food shortages. Eating meat. cervoise or beer in the northeast. elderly. Peasants drank hard apple cider in the northwest. which killed 8 million people. dark bread was made of wheat supplemented with other grains. the best wines from Gascony and Bordeaux were exported to British cellars. as well as fresh fish. sometimes grinding the nuts into a flour. In the South and on Corsica. Le Havre. Around 1550. Inexpensive piquette (wine made from the second pressing of the fruit) was available in much of the country. the society was now in bad shape. beans. During the little ice age that lasted through the next three centuries. For survivors of the plague and wars. diet and living conditions did improve until about the mid-sixteenth century. cheap staple that could be eaten during the lean days of Lent. the basic foodstuffs were interminable bowls of gruel and bread made from wheat or maslin (wheat mixed with rye and barley). who used the resulting brandy as a medicine. Cod fishing in North Atlantic waters provided a new. and Nantes. Meat-eating declined among the peasants. 1150 to 1450). especially pork. Nutritious oats were widely grown. Once Franç ois I granted the privilege of manufacture to vinegar makers. Staples varied by region and according to local taste. high prices. As a result of the ravages of the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) fought against England and the Black Death or bubonic plague (1348–1349). although hunting game in forests remained restricted to the aristocracy. Peas. For most.Historical Overview 13 There was literally little spice in the gustatory life of the peasant. Voluntary distribution of food was often associated with collective settings such as hospices and hospitals. In Brittany blé noir or sarrasin (buckwheat) mixed with water or milk was used to make gruel. and destitute received assistance in the form of meals of soup . harsh winters regularly led to inadequate grain harvests. and chickpeas supplemented the grains and gave more protein. During the Angevin period (ca. was not uncommon among peasants. Until 1537. people ate chestnuts. the climate changed. The feudal era had been relatively prosperous. In rural areas and among the poor everywhere. the distillation of wine was the province of apothecaries. Honfleur. Cheese was a staple in the Auvergne. the market for brandies and fortified wines quickly expanded. generally found in wealthy homes. Stockfisch or salted dried cod. White wheat bread was rare. poaching was punishable by execution. Wine was grown as far north as the Paris basin—there were vineyards at Montmartre and Belleville. The ill. Charitable institutions and paying establishments alike existed to provide venues for meals. made their way across the country from ships that docked at the western ports of Dieppe. when meat was forbidden. and hunger. although primarily to feed horses.

Myriad attendants performed separate offices. Each course of a meal had several dishes. Nobles feasted in the great halls of their castles. The hostels. as in earlier times. The nobility were conspicuous consumers. elites rented out a hôtel and the services of a cook and his helpers. at busy intersections in town. where the local regulars often gave travelers and newcomers a hard time. drew on the author’s experience as maistre queux du roy de France or master cook to the king of France. hosting them for up to three days. or a débit de vin (“wine dispensary:” sixteenth century and later). Inns and the tavernes that served wine set up strategically near city gates. which might rest on metal underplates. Convents. One of the earliest recipe manuscripts. interested in ostentation as well as the distribution of largesse. prisoners of war. Carvers neatly dismembered whole roasted animals carried in on immense platters. Recipes and indications for service followed the international style of the late medieval and early Renaissance courts throughout western Europe. Honored guests sat above the salt close to the head of the table. and much later the pensions (boarding houses) typical in the nineteenth century served meals usually at fixed hours and almost invariably at a communal table. monasteries. Tirel was known as Taillevent.14 Food Culture in France and bread. minimally bread and cheese or a piece of cold meat pie. The duties of lords to distribute food and wine stemmed from Christian notions of hospitality and also the old feudal obligations to vassals or dependents. Paying hôtels or hôtelleries (hostels. and itinerant merchants. Le Viandier (The Provisioner) attributed to Guillaume de Tirel (1315–1395). one also drank wine or beer at a cabaret (Picardy). journeymen. Food was placed on sliced bread trenchers. The spectacular service prevented diners from having to bring knives and slice their own portions from the roast. judges. For important occasions such as weddings. pantners looked after the bread. MANUSCRIPT TO COOKBOOK The earliest French-language works on cooking reflect practice in distinguished settings. inns. hostelries) maintained by municipal authorities sheltered travelers. His nickname refers to wind cutting through sails and presumably evokes his swiftness and efficacy in . sauciers attended to the garnishes. and the table was set with a nef or ship-shaped container to hold the salt. for a catered meal. estaminet (northern France and the Burgundian territory that is today Belgium). and generous lords allocated food and wine to pilgrims. Usually the taverns and other watering holes made some sort of food available. According to region and century. and close to marketplaces that drew a crowd.

”6 . moral theology. roasts and roast fowl. and printing came to France shortly thereafter (1470). and the cooking method: boiled meats. Expensive foreign spices were status symbols. evokes a different. who had to learn to run the ménage (household). meat broths and stews. milieu. Many recipes demand a heavy-handed application of spices. In 1450. This logic. and how much money she should spend for each item. and the irreplaceable black pepper. including supervising the kitchen. He gives menus for feast and fast days. and even tells his wife where she should go shopping for ingredients and utensils in Paris. The popular Viandier enjoyed numerous print editions through the seventeenth century. Taillevent’s résumé was superb: he cooked for the Valois king Philip VI and for Charles V and served as head of provisions for Charles VI. and cold and hot sauces. To serve or consume them was to demonstrate wealth and prestige. After all. grains of paradise (Malagueta pepper). Chapters on the obligations of a virtuous wife. A typical list includes cloves. Many of his recipes borrow directly from Taillevent’s Viandier. cinnamon. Other intriguing features of medieval recipes include elaborate substitutions and gastronomic trickery. His cookbook has a coherent organization that reflects the relationship of the recipes to the part they play in a grand meal. fancy entremets (meat or grain dishes served between the first and second courses). The author describes how to dress game taken on the hunt and indicates when the various garden vegetables should be planted seasonally. sweet flavors combined with salty tastes in the same dish. as cane sugar. ca. Johann Gutenberg pioneered use of the printing press with movable type in Mainz. imported from the Middle East and Sicily. Late medieval recipes hold surprises for the modern French palate. Notably. Le Mesnagier de Paris (The Parisian Household Guide. meatless stews and soups (for fast days). the use of the dish for further cooking or service. in which the cookbook mirrors the meal in its organization and progress through time. The author was a well-heeled bourgeois who wrote the instructional booklet for his teenage bride. the author wrote for his own ménage. if also wealthy. is still current for many manuals. and economics accompany those on meals. in one version of the manuscript) and shellfish.Historical Overview 15 the kitchen. The spice mixtures reflect the Roman heritage. ginger. was used as a spice. 1393). as in the recipe for “imitating a bear [or stag] steak with a piece of beef. food for the sick. Another early manuscript. Le Mesnagier is thoroughly didactic. although there is some adjustment in the direction of modesty. Recipes are organized according to the type of main ingredient. They also indicate the circumstances of the eaters. fish (including whale. long pepper. not for service in a château (castle).

each vendor had to stick to his specialty. from an ambulatory vendor with his cart. of meat or fish pasties and cheese and egg pies. Beginning in the twelfth century. vinegared herring. People purchased these street foods at the exterior counter of a boutique. The tantalizing list of food specialists for Paris in Étienne Boileau’s Livre des métiers (Book of Trades) of 1268 mentions sellers of bread. including in the street. The gaufrier specialized in waffles. The oublie (a waffle decorated with religious symbols) recalled the oblation (sacrifice. but one had to purchase one’s repast piecemeal. butchers. Later in the same century. later called corporations). of geese. milk. and town criers joined with colleagues to form guilds (communautés de métier. Types of street food multiplied over the centuries as sellers increased in number. had to responsibly discard or burn any meat older than two or three days and meat that smelled off. a similar unleavened egg and butter cake called a fouace was the province of the fouacier. for instance. shoemakers. To stretch profits. . In urban settings. Roasted meats came from a rôtisseur.16 Food Culture in France MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE STREET FOOD Taking food and meals outside of the home had a strong association to the urban centers. and self-sufficiency declined. of leftovers from the grand houses. But the customer had to be on the alert. giving a taste of independence to master workers if not their apprentices. or from a merchant stationed at an échoppe (booth or shop). they were definitively dissolved in 1791. where walking down the street revealed a wealth of edibles. onions à longue haleine (having a lasting effect on the breath). An unscrupulous wine merchant might push ignoble plonk as a good vintage from one of the better wine towns. the oubloyer’s portable oven was sometimes called a fournaise à pardon (“absolution furnace”). industry and trade prospered. specialists such as bakers. Meat sellers. smiths. the poet Guillaume de Villeneuve’s Crieries de Paris (Parisian Vendors’ Calls) adds that pears. cooked and cured pork from a chaircuitier saulcissier. raising the price accordingly. and bureaucracy displaced tribal and familial relationships. and fowl. and bowls of gruel were available. The collectivities regulated entry into each trade and defended practitioners’ interests. defined by corporate rules and royal statutes revised periodically until the attempt was made to suppress the trade guilds in 1776. Risks accompanied eating out. Stationed at the entry to churches on feast days. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries cities grew rapidly. In principle. and of tripe and offal. by extension the symbolic offering of bread and wine in the Catholic liturgy). pigeons. tavern keepers were known to sophistiquer (adulterate) their wine. Concerned municipal authorities did pass ordinances to regulate sales.

private funds sponsored the earliest trading and colonizing voyages. 1654) laid out instructions for gardening and then cooking from one’s own harvest. Christopher Columbus first set out in 1492 to find a fast water route to “the Indies” (that is. Samuel de Champlain finally founded a successful colony at Québec in 1608. this would become the word for potato). nor Hernando Cortès. and Spain wanted its own supply of this expensive commodity. By this time. and new varieties of beans. potatoes arrived in Europe in the 1570s. Topinamboux is the French name of a native Brazilian tribe (the Tupi). Portugal had cornered the market on black pepper. turkey (in French dinde abbreviates coq d’Inde or “Indian chicken”). Neither Columbus. made it to the Far East. Belated French voyages to the New World brought further culinary discoveries. and the . there was initially some confusion as to how to name it. Champlain returned with the topinambour or Jerusalem artichoke (or sunchoke). Perhaps the name topinambour stuck for the Jerusalem artichoke because it so intriguingly evokes exotic origins. the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci. they returned with marvelous foods: tomatoes. The knobby tuber has a firm texture and a sweet taste reminiscent of artichokes. Asia) to make it cheaper to import pepper and other spices. corn (maize). including the Jerusalem artichoke and wild rice. guava. In 1537. papaya. Another writer referred to it as a poire de terre (“earth pear”). Commissioned by the Spanish monarchs. who reached Mexico in 1519. and Henri IV began sending Jesuit missionaries to North America shortly thereafter. bell peppers. Bonnefons called the Jerusalem artichoke a pomme de terre (“earth apple”. Spanish soldiers found “floury roots” in a mountain village in Peru7. The voyagers to North America also found Virginia strawberries (larger than the tiny. seedy Old World fraises des bois or wild woodland strawberries). As with many new foods. who also encountered pineapple. and strawberries. which is appreciated today. cranberries. 1651) and Les Delices de la campagne (The Delights of the Countryside. and pumpkin returned with European voyagers. These New World foods came to France as a result of European voyages made beginning in the late fifteenth century. vanilla. Muscovy duck. as well as the famous corsaires or pirates who raided Spanish and Portuguese ships. Bumping instead into the Americas. Rather. Nicolas de Bonnefons was the valet to Louis XIV whose books Le Jardinier françois (The French Gardener. The French state came late to ambitious maritime exploration.Historical Overview 17 NEW WORLD FOODS Cornerstones of modern cooking such as potatoes and tomatoes are relatively recent additions to the French pantry. From Canada. chocolate. blueberries.


Food Culture in France

aquatic grass known as wild rice, which the Ojibwa taught the French to harvest from canoes and to cure. Many of the New World foods were incorporated only gradually into the diet. Hot chili peppers in the Capsicum family never took hold at all; spicy flavors are still disliked today. Other foods came through Spain and went to Italy before ending up in France, where cultural obstacles prevented their quick adoption. Today, it is difficult to imagine cooking without tomatoes; however, it took two centuries before the tomato was incorporated into the diet. A member of the deadly nightshade family, it was thought poisonous. The potato, from the same family of Solonacae, was also viewed with suspicion. Of course, the voyagers attested to its edibility. A few others quickly recognized that the potato would be useful against grain shortages, and fields were planted in Alsace and Lorraine, in the Auvergne, and in the Lyon area. Because of the importance of bread and the periodic famines resulting from lack of grain, potato fanciers experimented with using potato flour or mashed potatoes to replace wheat in leavened loaves; however, the potato had a bad reputation. It was accused of causing leprosy and was thought of as food fit only for the poor. By the eighteenth century, the old excuse was taken up that spuds were flatulent. Finally, potatoes were distributed to members of an agricultural society, and the naturalist Auguste Parmentier (1737–1813), with the support of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, promoted them tirelessly. Parmentier’s great coup was to plant potatoes in a field belonging to Louis XVI that was heavily guarded during the day. When the guards retired for the evening, temptation lured the local population in to poach whatever was so very valuable in the king’s fields. By the nineteenth century, people had begun to rely on potatoes as a staple. Turkey was accepted relatively quickly. By the eighteenth century, it often replaced goose as a festive roast. Today, turkey is popular for the winter holidays, and, as a pale-fleshed meat, it often replaces veal. In the seventeenth century, southern French peasants began to grow corn to eat as millasse (porridge like Italian polenta) or as corncakes or pancakes, selling the more profitable wheat that they grew. Elsewhere corn was primarily grown as animal fodder and to enrich soil depleted from other crops. It is hardly eaten today; most people still think of corn as food for animals.

Late seventeenth-century cookbooks emphasized tastes and codified procedures that persist today. In the 1660s, the satirist Nicolas Boileau poked fun at vulgar types who scour far-off Goa for pepper and ginger and whose idea of refinement consists of too much pepper mixed up in the sauce.8

Historical Overview


Spices, which had become relatively inexpensive, were out of style in aristocratic contexts. Instead of disguising flavors of the principal ingredients with baroque flourishes, some clarity and sense of proportion were now sought. Even humble vegetables were required to taste a bit more of themselves. Cooks working for elite diners turned to the kitchen garden for the flavoring palette. Cookbooks from this period, such as François Pierre de La Varenne’s Le Cuisinier françois (The French Cook, 1651), Pierre de Lune’s Le Cuisinier (The Cook, 1656), and L.S.R.’s Art de bien traiter (Art of Entertaining Well, 1674), show that cooks did use spices such as cloves. They certainly retained salt and pepper, although, often enough, only un peu (a little bit) in the case of pepper. A remarkable feature of these cookbooks is the use of plants to provide seasoning. Fresh herbs, onions, and garlic appear repeatedly in the recipes. Pierre de Lune explained how to use an herbal paquet (packet) that could be dropped into cooking liquids to give them flavor. The little bundle included thyme, chervil, and parsley and was tied up with a piece of string; the optional strip of lard (fat bacon) was taken out for jours maigres (lean days). Pierre de Lune’s paquet is the ancestor of the modern bouquet garni. Increasingly, salty flavors were separated from sweet, and sweets relegated to the end of the meal. A harmonious balance of flavors and the enhancement, rather than disguise, of the main ingredients were desired.

Fresh parsley, scallions, shallots, and garlic are essential ingredients and flavorings in French cuisine. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil.


Food Culture in France

The late seventeenth-century cookbooks reflect the preference for order. The Classical-era manuals allude to the sequences of procedures that are necessary for complex cooking. The cook must keep on hand an all-purpose meat stock pour la nourriture (“for the alimentation”) of other dishes such as sauces and to moisten meats. He must make roux (flour cooked in butter) as a thickener, and he must use butter and fewer breadcrumbs as liaisons or binders. To complete the time-consuming preparations—mashing, grating, peeling, chopping, slicing, scaling, soaking, blanching, boiling, reducing, barding, mixing, kneading, whipping, stirring, sieving, clarifying—on the large scale required to cook grand meals, an army of kitchen help must assist the head chef. These preparations had to be carried out before a dish could be finished. Today, chefs spend hours in the kitchen completing their mise en place (“putting into place” or preparation, i.e., chopping parsley, peeling vegetables, and so on) before actually beginning to cook. The Classical cookbooks laid the foundation for the lush cooking that went on in wealthy houses during the eighteenth century. The recipes and procedures also underpin haute cuisine, the refined, complex style of cooking that chefs practiced in restaurants and hotels in the nineteenth century. The contemporary descendent of aristocratic banquet cuisine is today’s cuisine gastronomique, such as in the Michelin-starred restaurants. Despite the advances toward modern taste in Classical cooking, aristocratic banquet meals retained the ostentatious service à la française (French-style service) typical of the Renaissance. Each course consisted of a profusion of different dishes laid out in a perfectly symmetrical geometry on the table. One was obliged to take from whatever serving plate was near at hand. The ceremonial court meal served à la française reached its apogee in the dining rooms of Louis XIV (r. 1661–1715). The Sun King’s reign had begun with an unfortunate slight delivered by means of dinner. With money skimmed off from the state’s tax income, Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finances, built himself an estate and gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte, then began to entertain in a style that fit his grand circumstances. In the summer of 1661, he staged two full days of festivities, including a parade of costumed allegorical figures who served supper and a massive edible monument of sugar confectionary, shiny preserved fruits, and ices, to honor Louis XIV. The mastermind behind the ill-fated but gorgeous banquet at Vaux was the maître d’hôtel or executive chef Franç ois Vatel. The king grew disgusted at Fouquet’s opulence, arranged for his minister’s arrest, and was never again outdone in the area of magnificent entertaining.

Historical Overview


Under the reign of Louis XIV, France subdued Spanish and Austrian rivals in Europe and set the standard for cultural brilliance across the Continent. Louis XIV ordered gardens and a brilliant hall of mirrors to be built at his château at Versailles. There he surrounded himself with his aristocratic entourage. The scheme was astute. The king made sure that people danced attendance upon him even when he arose from bed in the morning. For a noble, to risk an absence from a feast or the king’s intimate but ceremonial morning lever was to incur his displeasure and risk banishment to the yawning provinces. By holding political rivals in pleasing captivity at Versailles, Louis XIV prevented interference with his own monopoly on power. Protocol for serving and eating, like nearly every other aspect of court life, was designed to reflect and increase the greatness of the monarch. The king was the only man allowed to eat bareheaded. His food was marched in from the far-away kitchens by a long procession of guards, servants, and tasters. Although the use of the fork was firmly established by now among members of the aristocratic classes, Louis XIV was the only person at the table who did not bother with one, preferring to eat with his hands. Unsuccessful attempts had been made to recruit Vatel into service at Versailles; however, Vatel did stage one more dinner for the king. In 1669, now working for the Prince de Condé—long a rival to the king and suspected of a conspiracy against him—at the Château de Chantilly, Vatel staged an entertainment and weekend of feasting designed to restore his master to the good graces of the king. So great was the pressure of the occasion that the ingenious Vatel panicked when the delivery of fish failed to arrive, and he committed suicide. The epistolary chronicler Madame de Sévigné was not even there, but she habitually gathered all the gossip, and her account of Vatel’s death is practically the only credible information that survives. Madame de Sévigné wrote to her daughter that the fish wagons finally arrived, and the meal was a great success, at least for the Prince. Clearly, food and table manners were weighty matters during the Classical era. The table was a stage on which dramas of power were enacted every day. This is quite clear in the sly comedies of the playwright Molière, responsible for many of the evening entertainments at Versailles, just as he had been for the play presented by Fouquet at Vaux in 1661. In Tartuffe, ou l’Imposteur (Tartuffe, or The Imposter, 1669), for instance, the dynamics of the meal reveal the moral and psychological conflicts. A wealthy, gullible bourgeois has taken a devout individual into his household, but the soulful friend turns out to be a destructive parasite and first-rate hypocrite. Tartuffe literally eats his host out of house and home, attempts to

As gluttonous Tartuffe grows fat on bread and wine that are not his own. and nearly swindles him of everything he owns. 1746) even acknowledged. by its title. The shared meal turns into a perverse. AND SUGAR During the seventeenth century. such as Tartuffe’s show of devout Catholicism (shared with Louis XIV). 1691) responded to the incipient social changes that brought cookbooks aimed for use in nonaristocratic households. TEA. The introduction and the written instructions that accompany the pictures remind the carver that he should serve the best morsels. coffee. the title of Massialot’s Cuisinier roïal et bourgeois (Royal and Bourgeois Cook. The lesser pieces were doled out to the less distinguished guests. Menon’s cookbook was a best-seller and the only ancien régime cookbook to be reissued immediately after the Revolution of 1789. During the eighteenth century. the mistress of the house grows sick and faint and cannot eat. The anonymous compiler of the École parfaite included diagrams that show the steps for cutting up roast meats and whole cooked fish and fowl in order to serve them. Mexican chocolate (drunk as a beverage) was adopted at the Spanish court and then in the Spanish Netherlands before coming to . showing the social order gone wrong. Menon’s anonymously published Cuisinière bourgeoise (The [Female] Bourgeois Cook. the many illustrated cookbooks that are designed to appeal to the broad swathe of the middle classes combine the visual appeal of the art or photography book and the personal tone of the memoir with the practical methods in the recipes themselves. COFFEE. Today. appropriately sauced and garnished. tea. chocolate. 1662) borrowed not only recipes from cookbooks but also information from the tradition of treatises dating to the Renaissance on topics such as carving and serving. they would be commonplace. Published at the very end of the seventeenth century. vampiric anti-communion. Regional cookbooks appeared in the nineteenth century and encyclopedic yet accessible references both to grand cooking and to home cooking in the twentieth. Visible conformity to rank and acceptable social mores. The anthology called L’École parfaite des officiers de bouche (The Finishing School for Cooks. to those with the highest social standing. CHOCOLATE. and sugar became fashionable among elites. was the order of the day. Cookbooks and other documents pertaining to meals reveal the strong sense of social hierarchy that prevailed at the height of the ancien régime. a century later. that the person cooking in any but the very wealthiest households was usually a woman.22 Food Culture in France seduce his virtuous wife.

and amateur botanist Benjamin Delessert developed a dependable refining process. Separately. but the supply to France increased substantially after Henri IV chartered the French East India Company in 1604. sculptures made of spun sugar and marzipan (ground almonds mixed with sugar). and crusaders supervised sugar plantations in Jerusalem. Britain blocked French ships from landing in the western ports. through the Arab world to Turkey. to drink coffee imported from the Antilles and to eat sweets made with Martinique or Guadeloupe sugar was to support the economy. In the nineteenth century. in view of the competition from other colonial nations. wine. From the thirteenth century. Sugar was so expensive that only small quantities returned to Europe. the botanist Olivier de Serres had remarked on the high sugar content of beets. As early as the late sixteenth century. where the aristocracy considered the drink an aphrodisiac. then British and French ones in the Caribbean. Europeans added cane sugar to sweeten them. especially coffee. Napoleon now called for the cultivation of sugar beets in northern France and the Belgian provinces. sent quantities of sugar to Europe. In eighteenth-century France. France’s colonial sugar could not reach the country. but generally it was seen as a sobering.Historical Overview 23 France. then via the Mediterranean port cities to southern Europe. for which Napoleon named him chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. decorated royal tables as symbols of wealth and power. The Dutch East India Company brought Chinese tea to Europe. Perception of coffee’s effects varied. France soon . in 1669. In antiquity cane sugar had been a curiosity known to come from India. When Napoleon boycotted trade with Britain in the early nineteenth century. and from there it spread to other Caribbean islands and the South American mainland. cane cultivation spread with Arabian settlements to areas of the Mediterranean and North Africa. sugar was rare to unknown in peasant households. The banker. had entirely replaced beer. and by the twentieth century the hot drinks. intellectually stimulating drink. As all three beverages were thought to be overly strong and bitter. an Ottoman ambassador on diplomatic mission from Constantinople also introduced coffee to the court of Louis XIV at Versailles. and by boat from Venice to the trading center of Marseille. Columbus brought cane to Santo Domingo. Portuguese and Spanish colonial plantations staffed by slaves in the Atlantic. The taste for sugared coffee and the other beverages was initially restricted to aristocratic and bourgeois circles. and soups as morning meals. During the Middle Ages. In this era the sugar industry depended on the slave trade for labor. France became a major producer of sugar. industrialist. Throughout the nineteenth century. Coffee made its way from Ethiopia and Yemen.

and he presides over his own richly appointed table. France’s first successful café had been opened in the 1670s by the young Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. dining room. Procope eschewed the eastern custom of leaving the grounds in the cup. salon. They notably provided an ambiance quite different from the boozy miasma of the tavern. and candied fruits. No longer a medical wonder. he has married his way into a family of fermiers généraux (tax farmers). known as Franç ois Procope. and this attitude changed. and daily or nightly haven for writers scribbling away under the gaze of the garçon de café (café waiter). Nobles engaged in trades such as mining to exploit their land. the bourgeois fiscal administrators and money lenders whose opulent eating habits rivaled those of the previous century’s aristocrats. Many cafés served a selection of foods as well as coffee. many a café has served at once as office. however. Following Italian practice. sugar was viewed as unhealthy9. rare spice. play chess. liqueurs.24 Food Culture in France had a reliable local source of sugar. This works out to about one teaspoonful each day.5 kilograms (74 pounds) of sugar each year. coffee-drinking acquired its lasting association with conversation and the free exchange of information. and debate the latest play. yet retained hereditary privileges. the café still operates in Paris. sugar manufacturers began to advertise heavily. The rags-to-riches story in Pierre Carlet de Marivaux’s novel Le Paysan parvenu (The Parvenu Peasant. grew in the urban centers. the protagonist is fed by the cook in the back kitchen of the house where he is a servant. including bankers. By its end. working class prejudice mitigated against sugar.7 pounds) of sugar yearly. Because cafés were open to all comers. and instead served filtered coffee. At present. discuss politics. allowing bourgeois citizens to purchase power along with noble titles. consumption averaged 5. savory staples of meat and bread. The monarch sold administrative offices to raise money. . the average person consumes nearly 33. During the 1860s. At the novel’s start. or wondrous decoration for luxurious tables. As late as the 1890s. people from all walks of life sat down to read the newspaper. but the sway of the merchant and bourgeois classes. In contrast with the nourishing. Four-fifths of the population still lived in villages and rural areas. 1735) marked rungs on the social ladder through culinary and gastronomic distinctions. sugar became the common sweetener and preservative that it is today. along with ices. Over the stimulating small bowls or cups of coffee.3 kilograms (about 11. In this era new customs blurred old divisions among the social orders. ENLIGHTENMENT CAFÉS In the eighteenth century. Since then. cafés became common in Paris and modern-style restaurants developed.

Historical Overview 25 Little escapes the watchful eye of the café waiter. et des Métiers (Encyclopedia. Now gourmandise also meant the deepened enjoyment that comes with understanding. Cultivated into an . Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. The word gourmandise or gluttony had referred since the fourteenth century to the Deadly Sin. they solicited articles not just on the expected topics of theology. Arts. and he took pleasure into account. Although of delicate digestion. The editors believed that analysis and reason should be applied in all domains. and Trades. In his article on the topic for the Encyclopédie. ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences. Materialist thought even rationalized pleasure by means of the table. des Arts. or Reasoned Dictionary of the Sciences. Diderot gave the word a new. bread-baking. Diderot notoriously loved to eat and drink. and jurisprudence. the mathematician Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. 1751–1765) that the philosophe Denis Diderot. and others wrote collaboratively at mid-century. and strawberries. secular definition and introduced the notion of moderation. butchering. history. Accordingly. but also on pastry-making. PHILOSOPHICAL FOOD The democratic attitude that flourished in the café guided the Enlightenment approach to food in other spheres. The topic is treated with interest in the great Encyclopédie.

Bread riots that continued through the most of the century bore out this view. Today. In defiance of contemporary norms for those with any disposable income. because so specialized an art is required to make dishes edible for them. ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (Julie. a few guilded traiteurs or cook-caterers expanded business by offering meals in a different kind of setting than the rough table d’hôte of the innkeeper. all observant Catholics were still supposed to avoid prohibited foods or foods of unclear status. Rousseau advocated that mothers. The word restaurant . for instance. the philosophe and novelist Jean-Jacques Rousseau. [and] fruits. and Rousseau’s novel Julie. Ever the contrarian. whose real problem was getting enough to eat at all. everyday existence.11 MODERN RESTAURANTS The modern restaurant experience took shape in Paris in the late eighteenth century.” and they eschew meat. which makes people “cruel and ferocious. Beginning in the 1760s. a staple for many who did not have the means to pay for meat. rather than hired wet-nurses. He complained that.”10 Foods should be prepared with as few alterations to their original state as possible. which portrayed an ideal family and household economy. contrary to the received idea that the sophisticated French eat well.” Given the choice. they are in fact the only people “who do not know how to eat. children incline to vegetables along with “dairy products. the bodily necessity of eating could enhance. Rousseau was actually a francophone Swiss. or The New Heloise. Writing during the 1780s. he recommended pure. In his novel Émile (1762). One should not. pastries. the reformer and journalist Louis-Sébastien Mercier recorded in the Tableau de Paris (Picture of Paris) the misery that ecclesiastical fasting requirements inflicted on the poor.26 Food Culture in France intellectual as well as a sensual experience. saw both urbane gastronomic pleasure and urban food shortage as two sides of the same decadent coin. informed appreciation for the daily pleasures of cooking and eating is a defining aspect of the French approach to food. On lean days. One should eat foods in season. he observed. about educating children. Social critics associated with the later Enlightenment couched their discussions in a more polemical way. such as eggs. Mercier observed with chagrin that any prohibition unjustly strained the poor. Parents sought guidance in Émile to raising their own children. breast-feed their new babies. simple food as the most wholesome and also as the best for character formation. apply heat to butter and dairy products. was a bestseller. rather than simply maintain. 1761). His ideas for a natural diet reached a wide audience.

the customer chose exactly what and when he or she wanted to eat. In new maisons de santé (“health houses”) or salles du restaurateur (“restaurateur’s rooms”) the caterers aimed to appeal to clients by providing the health-giving decoctions on a flexible schedule. who had trained as a lawyer. COMFORT. the Grande Taverne de Londres (Great London Tavern). The new establishments listed the available dishes and their prices on a carte or menu. AND ENJOYMENT The largely unsung hero of the modern working class and middle class table was the eclectic aristocrat turned food critic Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de la Reynière (1758–1837). although the first trip to a restaurant could be fraught with peril. legal reforms enacted under Napoleon shaped a country changed by republican ideas although still breathing ancien régime air. These included the Trois Frères Provençaux (Three Brothers from Provence). be kept or quickly prepared for service at a moment’s notice. rather than bloodlines. salubrious preparations could also. which is still open today. diners sat at private. It fostered meritocracy rather than entitlement based on inherited name or rank. either within the country or elsewhere. Véfour. had a serious interest in food and deep skepticism regarding the motives of the powerful. opened in 1782 by Antoine Beauvilliers.12 The famous early establishments were based in Paris. After the Revolution and the chaos of the Terror in the early 1790s. who had cooked for the Count of Provence. They caught on quickly. soft-boiled eggs. The light. “Quality” now came from work or performance. the term restaurant meant the eating house itself.Historical Overview 27 designated a “restorative” soup or bouillon made from meat or fowl that was reduced to a rich essence. In addition to broths. the future Louis XVIII. individual tables. exporting abroad for commercial purposes not just la cuisine française (French cooking) but. notably. His satirical response was to develop a mocking code gourmand or food . Grimod. and Véry. Before long. for men) before the law. The new Code Napoléon or Civil Law Code of 1804 scripted autonomy and equality (at least. they served items such as boiled capons. After the revolutionary decade (1790s). some private cooks who had been employed in great houses had to start over. who served southern specialties such as brandade de morue (creamed salt cod) and bouillabaisse (Provençal fish soup). Although they frequented a public place. an entire French dining experience. QUALITY. It was necessary to decipher the menu and sometimes to outsmart a sneaky maître d’hôtel who could run up the bill by bringing extras. and rice puddings. conveniently. Many opened restaurants. fruit preserves.

eaters. and writers and readers. Despite his own distinguished. in part for the advertising. the German states. critics. exceedingly wealthy origins. the same is true for the complex relationships that exist today among food producers. for instance. Today. Grimod’s guides fueled the nascent gastronomic industry made up of restaurants. This allowed the eater to fully appreciate each food at the peak of its perfection and to enjoy it hot. and writers. Instead of the old service à la française. At the same time. through nearly the end of the preceding century). Grimod had a modern taste for comfort and enjoyment. such as the fine mineral waters. Grimod’s system had its coercive aspects. meat stews. the food critic. and consumers. The latter interfered with the flow of goods so necessary to support fine dining. Food producers did so. To protest the former. and in part for fear of reprisal from this fearsome new species of ally-adversary.28 Food Culture in France connoisseur’s canon of laws for the table. boutiques. Grimod preferred that each service or course of a meal consist of a single dish. He was an early advocate of serving in the style then called à la russe (Russian style). or chefs and eaters. too. while resting assured that he had a similar portion to his neighbor. he championed (from his desk chair and dining table—Parisian central command for gastronomic operations) specialties of. all belonged to a consumer culture that was expanding in many domains. Grimod vociferously criticized unscrupulous shopkeepers and traders who took advantage of the situation to overcharge customers or short-weight meats or produce. What is remarkable is that fashion in food no longer emanated from exclusive removes associated with the centralized power (the court.13 During the Napoleonic Empire (1804–1815). Simplicity made the method adaptable for modest households. Good taste and knowledge now emerged from interactions among producers and consumers. He recommended that meals be simplified. Like many others of his time. the wealthier segments) and from the response of that public. Grimod had a strong sense of duty as a public advocate. Each preparation should come to the table completely prepared and perfectly done. He disdained the old aristocratic preference for ostentation. he soon tired of Napoleon’s all-conquering military sweep across Europe and worried over the hostilities with Britain. he invented (in 1804) a clever system for judging quality and “legitimating” all that was best to eat. the . and steamed dumplings. The service of a full meal in separate courses became standard in the most elegant and expensive contexts by the 1860s. During the national conversion to the metric system and uniform system of weights and measures. but rather from establishments open to the public (or at least. This meant that he persuaded caterers and restaurateurs to give him samples of their wares.

ceremonial yet simple structure is typical for any full meal.Historical Overview 29 Enjoyment is the best praise for good cooking. 1826). a discussion of the “Influence of Gourmandise on Marital Bliss. If Grimod mobilized a comprehensive revolution at the table.” recommendations for fattening and slimming diets. The chef Antonin or Marie-Antoine Carême (1783–1833). Brillat’s cheerful. Food appreciation. the more famous writer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826) spread the word with the deliciously amusing Physiologie du goût (Physiology of Taste. Brillat was a magistrate who fled France during the Terror. ending up in New England. Notes on the physical faculties of taste and digestion. jokes for enlivening a dinner party—all have their place in the Physiologie. gossipy anecdotes. where he taught French and music and famously shot a wild turkey in the “virgin forests” of Connecticut before making his way back home. like Grimod and Brillat. a history of science culminating with “the science of gastronomy” triumphant. and nearly everything makes its way into his book. sociable banter demystified dining rituals formerly associated with grand tables and endeared the author to generations of readers. is fundamental to the understanding of nearly everything. whether served at home or in a restaurant. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/ regard public-unpact. participated both in the ancien and in the nouveau . in Brillat’s view. observations not only on feasting and fasting but also on thirst.

sense of proportion. social. and delicacy of flavor. he clearly had a professional interest in avoiding the truly modern simplicity advocated by Grimod. He was a private chef in the old style who served some of the most prominent individuals in Europe. He authored several volumes on pastry-making and cooking. rakish bishop. the Napoleonic Empire. and documents such as balance sheets and menus give a sense of why this was so. NINETEENTH-CENTURY RESTAURANTS Restaurant culture expanded rapidly during the nineteenth century. His cooking was famous for its variety. All the same. contemporary studies of eating out. The accounts of travelers and memoirists. and notable gastronome who served under several administrations: the republican Directory of the late 1790s. Mulhouse. which had mechanized factories . and Rouen.30 Food Culture in France régimes—political. the Bourbon monarchy restored in 1815) and Baron James de Rothschild. few people capable of cooking on a high level cared to work as private servants. The socialist politics of the 1980s finally made the situation somewhat embarrassing for at least some employers. treatment by novelists. and he preferred a modified version of service à la française. and a steady stream of people left the country for the northern and eastern coal-mining cities and places such as Lille. but he felt strongly that magnificence and elaborate decoration had their place on the table. The nineteenth-century population was predominantly rural and agricultural. Carême had nothing good to say about the use of spices. By that time. industrialization favored urbanization. He was a great fan of the expensive truffle and other such luxuries. The employment of highly accomplished private cooks in many wealthy and upper middle class houses continued until well after the mid-twentieth century. As a cook for fancy clients. Carême was also a self-made man and phenomenal selfpromoter who achieved fame and professional success in a thoroughly modern fashion. including the great oeuvre heavily entitled Art de la cuisine française au 19e siècle: Traité élémentaire et pratique suivi de dissertations culinaires et gastronomiques utiles au progrès de cet art (Art of French Cuisine in the Nineteenth Century: Basic and Practical Treatise Followed by Culinary and Gastronomic Dissertations Useful to the Progress of this Art. preferring jobs that better integrated them into the professional community of cooks. 1833). including Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (wily politician. The five-volume cookbook (the last two volumes were finished by his executors after his death) modernizes aristocratic grande cuisine for the grand bourgeois table. and dietary.

Historical Overview


beginning in the 1830s. Restaurants, at this juncture, like the taverns and cafés that preceded them, opened primarily in cities and were a mainstay of workers. Quality of the food, ambience, and price varied, as they do today. The multiplication of fancy restaurants during the First Empire had fostered a connoisseur culture peopled by the new food critics and gastronomes, as well as ostentatious consumption by high rollers of various stripes. This grande cuisine or haute cuisine culminated late in the century in the cooking and cookbooks of chef Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935) and in dining rooms within the new “palaces” or grand hotels. But an equally or perhaps even more remarkable phenomenon was the spread of decent but inexpensive restaurants that served a modest prix fixe (fixed price) menu aimed at a middle class clientele. Such menus listed prices for full meals in three or four courses, not for individual items, giving one a package deal. Workers favored inexpensive bouillon shops, where they chose from a limited range of à la carte (individually listed) items served in small portions; the series of beef and bouillon restaurants opened in the 1860s by the butcher Duval are an early example of a chain restaurant. Dairy restaurants were also popular among the working classes. Cheap gargotes catered to the impecunious, such as students and laborers. Guinguettes (outdoor cafés and dance-halls) opened seasonally outside city limits to avoid the municipal taxes. The café-concerts had music as well as coffee, alcohol, and food. Restaurants de nuit had dancing and usually a dubious reputation. Menus in these diverse restaurants had in common that they varied by season and offered three and sometimes four courses to compose a full meal. Two massive studies based on interviews of workers begun in the mid-nineteenth century, Pierre-Guillaume-Frédéric Le Play’s Ouvriers Européens (European Workers, 1855) and the collective work completed by his followers entitled the Ouvriers des Deux Mondes (Workers from Two Worlds, 1859–1930), show that motivations for frequenting restaurants were diverse. These ranged from periodic indulgence or overindulgence in food and wine, usually right after payday, to making oneself available for encounters that would drum up business and increase one’s income. Sometimes one simply purchased at a restaurant what was needed to supplement the essentials of a meal brought from home.14 In many cases, small, cramped city apartments without amenities for cooking made eating out a matter of necessity. New lighting technologies—stable-burning oil lamps (by the 1790s), gas lamps (1860s), and electricity (1880s)—strategically adopted by businesses increased the appeal of restaurants and lengthened opening hours.15 The legacy of the affordable public eating culture has


Food Culture in France

been quite influential. Today, motivations for eating out differ, but it is typical that throughout the country one can eat a meal of decent quality outside the home without breaking the bank.

In the late nineteenth century, outside of the cities with their mechanized factories and restaurant culture, the picture was quite different. Twothirds of the population lived in rural areas and villages. The lifestyle was agricultural, and farming was essentially preindustrial; it is ironic that in this era, Third Republic (1870–1940) politicians famously justified ambitious colonial expansion as a mission civilisatrice or mission to civilize and assist in the modernization of the occupied countries. At home, meals for most people still reflected the aim of self-sufficiency. With the exception of a few items such as salt, sugar, and coffee that had to be purchased, what was eaten came from the kitchen garden or the family farm. For farmers, still called paysans (peasants or country people), main meals were built around soups, which stretched ingredients as far as possible. Other staples were the garden vegetables that stored well: potatoes, carrots, cabbages, and beans. If animals were kept, butter and eggs could be sold. If a pig was killed, it was pickled or smoked, to last the whole 12-month cycle.16 Bread came from the village baker, or might still be baked at home. For those who lived and—for the moment, stayed—in the country, it was not so much the texture or material aspect of life but rather attitudes that underwent a certain revision. The early years of the Third Republic were characterized by a mix of nationalism and protectionism, on the one hand, and democratic ideals and liberal economic policies, on the other. The relationship among village bread baker, priest, and schoolmaster in the classic film La Femme du boulanger (The Baker’s Wife, 1939) poignantly depicts the difficult changing of the conceptual guard.17 The 1880s had brought free, compulsory primary school education for all children and the abolishment of religious education in public schools. The schoolmaster was charged to represent the Republic and universally to inculcate its values in his pupils. He supplanted the priest as an exemplary figure in villages. At the same time, at least in some rural areas, the routines of everyday life had hardly changed. In the film, when the village baker is deserted by his wayward wife, he becomes so distraught that he cannot make bread, and the village begins to worry about its stomach. Priest and schoolmaster, who conversed by peevish argument, now join forces to—of all things— ford a stream to reach the baker’s wife and coax her into returning home. The priest is hampered by the voluminous skirts of his cassock and suffers

Historical Overview


being carried on the shoulders of the teacher, who wears a modern (and masculine) suit. The waters part neither for the priest nor for the teacher. The teacher seems better equipped to meet the challenges of modern life, but the priest has a practiced bedside manner. Both are instrumental in reestablishing harmony and unity in their community. Communion in the village is now secular. It takes place at the baker’s and in each family’s dining room, as much as in the church, with the baker’s bread rather than the host distributed by the priest, and over the sociable glass of pastis (anise liqueur typical in the South) taken at the one village café rather than with the sip of consecrated wine. The film presents a nostalgic, idealized vision of village life, yet it is also accurate in some of the essentials. It is notable that rituals of communion—or community—persist so strongly. Participation in the collectivity of the village and shared cultural memory exert a strong force.

Industrialization brought the looming threat that the individual character of foods and food production, associated with quality and safety, could be obliterated by impersonal processes beyond the ken of consumers or of most producers. Adulteration of wine, either to doctor the flavor or to attempt to preserve it, had always been a problem, although some practices were considered acceptable. Fraud and the definition of words complicated the issue. For instance, “wine” made from raisins rather than fresh grapes technically was made from grapes. In the late nineteenth century, new chemical processes of synthesis forced people to imagine the weird possibility that a liquid sold as wine might not be made from grapes at all.18 Wine, bread, and meat were the essential sources of calories for urban workers. A further strain was caused by increased demand for wine in the cities at the same time that a devastating string of contagions decimated vines in the countryside. Destructive mildews, grape phylloxera (a kind of aphid) and other plagues caused wine production to plummet in the 15 years from 1875 to 1889 to a mere quarter of earlier levels. A hygenics movement concerned with the rise in alcoholism insisted that it was the modern adulterated wines that were causing problems. The ancestral beverage of the Gauls, on the other hand, was touted as nourishing and healthy. The regulations and attitudes that emerged were part of the reaction to the complex of issues presented by industrialization, production in difficult times, and rising demand. Laws passed in the late nineteenth century provided ever more precise descriptive definitions of wines and methods of wine production.


Food Culture in France

The Griffe Law of 1889 specified that “No one shall expedite, sell, or cause to be sold under the name of wine any product other than that deriving from the fermentation of fresh grapes.” This was le vin naturel or “natural wine.” Vin factice, which meant “artificial” or “elaborated” or “synthetic” wine, was not condemned, but it was now clearly to be distinguished from “natural” wine. The idea was that information would orient people to choose “natural” wine; fraud, it was assumed, would be eliminated as a consequence. When this did not happen, more interventionist statutes were passed to prevent certain types of adulteration. Notably, a new law passed in 1894 forbade mouillage or stretching wine with water (from mouiller, to wet or moisten) and vinage or increasing the alcohol content by adding must. Mouillage did not threaten the health of anybody who drank the treated wine, but the motivation for making it illegal was to promote transparency in business transactions. The longstanding law of 1905 against fraud enlarged on this idea, leading to debate among winemakers and finally to a new statute in 1907 that precisely detailed how words such as vin (wine) and méthode champenoise (Champagne-making method) should be used to correspond to specific processes of production. Later in the century, socialist and protectionist politics continued in the same direction of regulation, but for different reasons than the earlier laws inspired by liberal motives. Strict regulation of fraud and a politics of quality served the national economic interest; for the same reason, the concern for public health became another primary motive for food regulation.

Late nineteenth-century regionalism and the retour à la terre (“return to the soil” or peasantism) that flourished between the two World Wars contributed to defining the singular nature of foods through terroir. To be sure, neither regional specialty nor the term terroir was anything new. GalloRomans knew that their best oysters came from Brittany and Normandy and that there were no better hams than those from Bayonne. The royal tables of the absolutist era groaned under the weight of what was best from all over France. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, Grimod de la Reynière advocated gastronomic tourism, writing that one had to travel to Riom (Auvergne) to eat the best frogs legs, properly prepared by a knowledgeable local expert. In 1808, the lawyer and pharmacist Charles Louis Cadet de Gassicourt published a carte gastronomique (gastronomic map) keyed with small pictures to show the typical foods for each region and town. Awareness of regional particularity increased throughout the

In the nineteenth century. such as lamb from the prés-salés (salt marshes) and garriguettes. A food or wine with the taste of terroir is understood in opposition to commercial or industrial fast food and supermarket products seen as sterile and impersonal. were not known as being unusually good or even very distinctive. The specificity that informs terroir also underpins the Appellation d’origine contrôlée or AOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin). and soil (its physical characteristics. or the human element. are named second. winegrowers from the Médoc region . French wines are identified first by the place from which they come: a Côtes-du-Rhône. the effort to decentralize culture from Paris into the provinces led to cooperation between the state and the regions to develop local identities. Like regional specialty. the term terroir is as old as the hills that it long designated. As a way of competing. This meaning of the term terroir informs the familiar French metonymy for wine. One speaks of a wine or a food. Of Latin origin. if redolent of the countryside. A person’s way of speaking. the elongated strawberries originally grown in scrublands. inexpensive Spanish and Portuguese wines were cutting out French wines from European markets. at that point.Historical Overview 35 century and was key both for rallying nationalist sentiment and stimulating the tourist industry. the term has been used in French since the thirteenth century to mean a plot of land suitable for cultivation. and taste that defines good-quality. topography (slope. interaction with water). the term terroir is used to evoke the connection among place. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Whereas American wines are identified first by the name of the grape (merlot. Regulations for the AOC derive from classifications for Bordeaux wines instituted in the mid-nineteenth century. such as the cépage (type of vine or grape: gamay. components of terroir include the climate (temperature. as having the goût du (taste of) terroir. rainfall) of the location where the grapes are grown. altitude). a Bordeaux. pinot noir) from which they are made. Today. of unclear provenance and little savor. was called the accent of his terroir. area). dirt) and territoire (territory. and so on) and the year or vintage. the term took on an association with other characteristics perceived as local. Terroir also includes historical and cultural practices of the people involved. chemistry. During the twentieth century. For wine. or the specific vineyard within a geographical region or even a town. Terroir is related to terre (earth. a Chablis. manufacturing process. Bordeaux wines. Additional details. sunlight. as trains and other forms of transport made it easier to travel and also to perceive regional variations. cabernet. artisanal wines and foods. as they are today.

19 The many winemakers whom the grades excluded naturally wished to obtain some sort of distinguishing label for their own bottles. The fifth estate was not added until 1973. In 1990. they carefully cultivated the oldest and best vines. More capacious legislation passed in 1935 established the Appellation d’origine contrôlée. They paid special attention to aging the reds in oak barrels. As a measure of protection for their exceptional wines. .36 Food Culture in France applied themselves to strategically developing grands crus or distinguished Bordeaux wines that stand up to long aging and command very high prices. the AOC was expanded to cover all manner of foods as well as wines. the premier cru designation was awarded to wines from four estates. Today. from the poulet de Bresse (Bresse Village appellation red burgundy from the Côte de Beaune district of the Côte d’Or. as imitations of the distinguished bottles came on the market. In the first year. This reinforced the connection between the place where grapes where grown and the resulting wine. The prestigious labels were not easy to obtain. To improve quality. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. proprietors evolved special classifications that were applied beginning in 1855. The best label of premier cru (first growth) and even the least distinguished label of cinquième cru (fifth growth) vastly increased the market value of these wines. and the mode of production of a variety of products. the AOC certifies the place of origin. the specific type. Along the way. The fraud laws became important for winemakers. which could be applied to wines from locations other than in Bordeaux. these growers also consolidated the cultivated parcels on their estates.

The certification of the AOC gives a concrete. Today the European Commission administers a set of indications based on geography and origin for food and wine in all the member states. and lettuce at market shortly before the conversion in 2002 from the French franc to the Euro as the unit of currency. radishes. and including some of the vins de table (table wines). practical form to the appreciation for quality and particularity. overseen processes of cultivation and manufacture. extensive research and documentation are necessary to establish the application dossier for a food. with the reduction of trade barriers within the member Farmer selling artichokes. . the European Community Council passed regulations based on the French AOC that extend to all the member states. The passage of the European legislation coincided. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier.Historical Overview 37 chicken) and beurre d’Isigny-Sainte-Mère (Isigny-Sainte-Mère butter). ironically. The AOC also functions as a protectionist measure that is a boon to sellers and producers and to tourism. Because the designation AOC indicates a historical pedigree and also functions something like a patent for the final product. to various fruits. It embodies the general acknowledgment that food with the best flavor and the most appealing textures may result from carefully. laws pertaining to food must now be negotiated within that framework. In 1992. even painstakingly. FRANCE AND EUROPE Because of membership in the European Union.

Einhard the Frank. Salaman. .38 Food Culture in France states of the European Union. “Volumus quod in horto omnes herbas habeant…” (We want that all the plants be cultivated in the garden…). a popular vote defeated a referendum to approve the proposed draft of a European Constitution. Nicolas Boileau. 440s). France is notorious for refusing to abandon. 1994). the primary challenge is to balance the particular concerns of France with the larger endeavors of Europe. editors Georgina E. 61. they simply make clear that. 36. der August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. 5. Devon: Prospect Books. LXX. 8. Ferrier. 3. guelf. to conflicts of interest. cod. 636 and 674. 6. This has led. 7. Salvian of Marseille. 1992). Cited in Sainted Women of the Dark Ages. 829–36). 2 vols. Compliance with European economic policy imposes common standards on member nations.. for fear of the consequences that greater liberalism could have on cherished social protections and on the quality of life. Despite compliance in other areas. 254 Helmst. in Oeuvres vol. 2002). published Madrid: 1886). Historia del Nuevo Reino de Granada (ca. 64–67. 1393). 189–90 and Bonnie Effros. subsidies in place since the early 1960s for its farmers. Gordon Whatley (Durham: Duke University Press. on occasion. editors and translators Jo Ann McNamara and John E. Life of Charlemagne (ca. translator Jeremiah F. In the spring of 2005. The History and Social Influence of the Potato (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Brereton and Janet M. But these stances hardly prevent ongoing engagement with European projects. Juan de Castellanos. translator Lewis Thorpe (London: Folio Society. 1910). from The Writings of Salvian. translator Karin Ueltschi (Paris: Librarie Générale Française. This includes a relatively liberal approach toward free trade and privatization. Halborg with E. 1 (Paris: GarnierFlammarion. Creating Community with Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 4. 1949). editor Bruno Krusch. 54. at present. O’Sullivan (New York: Cima Publishing Company. 1996). Satires (1663–1701). the Presbyter. editor Carlrichard Brühl (Stuttgart: Müller und Schindler. Le Mesnagier de Paris (ca. 1947). Cited in Redcliffe N. in Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum merovingicarum 5 (Hanover: Impensis bibliopolii Hahniani. At the time. 1971). Anthimus. Rather. 1538. 1969). the negative vote was seen as a major setback for Europe. De observatione ciborum (On the Observance of Foods). 2. Karolus Imperator Capitulare de Villis. 16. On the Governance of God (c. NOTES 1. in Capitulare de villis. Vita Sadalbergae abbatissae Laudunensis 20. or even much reduce. 1970). translator and editor Mark Grant (Totnes. III and VII.

1994).” in La qualité des produits en France (XVIIIe-XXe siècles). Norms of Consumption and the Labouring Classes in Nineteenth-Century France. Almanach des gourmands. 337–49 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers.” pp. 37. 19. Robert Darnton. editors Lawrence R. ou de l’éducation (1762). 12.” in The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History (1984. New York: Vintage Books. Robert C. 194. 2000). den Hartog.Historical Overview 39 9. Rebecca Spang. Book 2 (Paris: Garnier-Flammarion. 10. 2003). Eugen Weber. editor Peter Scholliers (Oxford: Berg. 99–118 in Food. Cinquième année (Paris: Maradan. 1985). 123–50. Anne Lhuissier. editor Alessandro Stanziani (Paris: Belin. Alessandro Stanziani. Vintages and Traditions (Washington: Smithsonian Institution. 1807). 13. 17. Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 2001). and ‘La Francité’: From le pain quotidien to McDo.” pp. and in French Culture. 233. 18. “A Bourgeois Good? Sugar.” in French Food: On the Table. 11. Martin Breugel. 1880–1914. Drink and Identity. “Eating Out during the Workday: Consumption and Working Habits among Urban Labourers in France in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century.. “La construction de la qualité du vin. Weiss (New York: Routledge.” pp. 203–20. “Technological Innovations and Eating Out as a Mass Phenomenon in Europe. 14. 15. Dana Strand. Schehr and Allen S. “Film. . Food. 263–80 in Jacobs and Scholliers. 46–50. Adel P. Ulin. Emile. The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s (New York: Norton. 1966). 2003). on the Page. eds. 2001). Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. 16. “Readers Respond to Rousseau: The Fabrication of Romantic Sensitivity. 1996). Grimod de la Reynière. The Invention of the Restaurant (Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


each person ate 500 grams (on the order of a half-pound) daily. the common orchard fruits. as well as a powerful religious symbol. bread was a staple of the diet. and. Even so. because it is how you earn (gagner) the bread that keeps you alive. Bread. and eponymous exports such as Champagne. This is due to the diversity of agricultural production. then cheese.2 Major Foods and Ingredients An astounding variety of foods are eaten in France. Horse is not treated as food in the United States. grated raw celery root salad with a cream dressing—a favorite bistro lunch—may come as a a surprise. The language has numerous expressions that refer to bread. different butchering practices. Americans are of course quite familiar with items such as beef. more recently. Your pain quotidien (daily bread) is the food that you count on eating every day. wine. as well as the typical preparations give beef a special flavor in France. Dessert—fruits. to the many imports. A slang word for a job is gagne-pain. baked goods—and the digestif (after-dinner drink) appear at the end. and meat come first. to long-standing traditions of cultivation and of practices such as hunting. To present the major foods and ingredients. for instance. this chapter broadly follows the structure of the traditional meal in courses. The taste for. about three . Today. say. To “take the bread out of someone’s mouth” is to rob him of his livelihood. BREAD For centuries. followed by vegetables. Only a century ago.

for country-style loaves. that is. In a bakery the baguette can be purchased bien cuite (well cooked). Recent interest in eating whole grains for health has brought dark breads back into fashion. and moister on the inside. bistros. darker and dryer. The dough rising on the racks at the back of the shop awaits baking. rather in boulangeries (bakery shops) or industrial bakeries. similarly long but half the diameter. although it is eaten all over the country. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. and restaurants. and the crumb chewy and delicate.42 Food Culture in France Buying a baguette at the boulangerie Au pain chô in Sainte Maxime. crusty white baguette is typical of Paris. that is. or pas trop cuite (baked less). Bread—no matter how small the quantity—makes a meal complete. the crust is crispy. slices of bread are placed on the table in a basket to accompany food. and darker bread made from unrefined wheat or rye was typical for the poor. Rustic . The bâtard (bastard) is a free-form loaf named for the mixed leavening agents—both yeast and a sour-dough starter—used to make it. by weight. as a matter of course. Bread is rarely made at home. delicately crispy. thin. or four slices of bread is average. At best. Large round boules used to be a staple.5 inches). Breads are identified by name and. The long (70 cm or 27. taken out of the oven when it is still pale gold. In cafés. A slim relative of the baguette is the ficelle (string).

to eat with a meal. vegetables. or stoneground flours. or else broken off in chunks. about a half-liter (the better part of a pint) each day. As recently as the late 1930s. assassins. The high level of alcohol consumption led to high levels of liver problems and alcoholism. the artisanal methods result in bread that has a deeper flavor. and better keeping qualities. Wine was usually mixed with water. however. They choose better ingredients. and nuts. The taste for croûtons (toasted slices of bread) with soup remains. The old-style breads cost more than industrially produced loaves but taste so much better that people seek them out. Jewish bakeries sell challah. The old-style processes are slower. Panade is a carryover from poorer days and peasant traditions. France is the premier producer in the world. In certain métiers or trades. They require more labor. Bread and crumbs have numerous uses in cooking.Major Foods and Ingredients 43 pains de campagne (country breads) can be enriched with dried figs. unrefined. Today. such as proofing with sourdough or wheat flour starter instead of with fast-rising yeast. or potatoes that is baked in the oven. Most bread is sliced in the kitchen or at table. poetic inspiration. Sprinkled on top of a dish of meat. and deep sleep. as well as bagels covered with poppy or sesame seeds. when adding bread to soup made a heartier meal. beer. earthly contentment. such as organic. olives. They use older processes. In Paris. The “different” wines drunk by rag-pickers. and cider. it really was often safer to drink wine. Wine has long been thought of as hygienic and nourishing. When bread-baking practices were standardized and mechanized in the second half of the twentieth century. In the mid-nineteenth century. quality declined. some bakers have begun to reverse this trend. and lovers. Metz. a silkier and more elastic crumb. they form an attractive crust. WINE Wine has been produced on French soil since antiquity. spiritual transcendence. responsible for a fifth of global production. poet Charles Baudelaire evoked the infinitely variable “soul” of wine in a series of poems. such as among . and other cities with Jewish communities. the braided loaf fortified with eggs that is eaten on the Sabbath. and attention from the baker. wine consumption averaged 170 liters (45 gallons) per person yearly. Before the modern understanding of water cleanliness and contamination. and they accompany fish soups. effectively sterilized through the presence of alcohol. Croûtons are placed in the bottom of onion soup bowls. skill. Recently. It usually was drunk mixed with water. a safe beverage that gives life and strength. not to mention poets1 lead variously to drunkenness (either divine or simply boorish).

it is essential to the culture of the table. as heavy drinking is now understood to threaten health and safety. old drinking traditions have not disappeared. each brings out the tastes and textures of the other to best advantage. wine is drunk undiluted but in smaller quantities. It is one of the components that contributes to making a meal complete—structured. Alcoholic beverages generally are always accompanied by food. and vice versa. Today.44 Food Culture in France Historical. For an everyday meal. people drink water and wine. and wine is integrated into meals. A separate wine for each course is de rigueur for formal and celebration meals. tannery workers. Although only one in four French men and women regularly drinks wine. or less than one glass each day. Wine sets off food. This causes concern for colleagues. diluting wine with water is now quite rare. having less sugar. harmonious. The average stands at approximately 60 liters (15. although combinations ultimately depend on personal preference. The individual flavor and character of each wine derives from the grapes as well as from the production processes. Tradition and experiment suggest rules of thumb for pairing wine and food. Some wines are dryer. and balanced—and as enjoyable as possible.75 gallons) of wine per person each year. the national beverage. Some are lighter and simpler in flavor. and others sweeter. Dry Champagne marries well . others richer and more complex. economic. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. and religious significance contribute to the importance of wine. taking them separately.

even the cheapest vin ordinaire (everyday wine) tends to be of decent quality. Although wine drinking overall has declined.Major Foods and Ingredients 45 with just about anything and may be drunk throughout an entire meal. Poured cold over fruit or berries. Fruit macerated or soaked in wine acquires tenderness as well as flavor. Meat is the centerpiece for most main meals. French cooks have the reputation of being creative and frugal. wasting nothing. such as red meats and cheese. Dry white wines accompany fish or seafood to good effect. Since 1975. In larger amounts. veal. ingenious and resourceful. Both whites and reds are used for flavoring. the trend is to drink better quality wines. period. Cooking assigns wine a large number of tasks. most people simply purchase inexpensive bottles along with the rest of the groceries. Sweet white wines such as Sauternes. The gut-searing piquette of days past has practically disappeared. Standards and methods of production vastly improved throughout the twentieth century. Such bottles are not meant to be kept or aged after bottling. if red). Of course. wine forms a marinade. They have invented succulent dishes that use all parts of animals slaughtered for meat. It raises more than enough for its own population. They are best drunk within at most a few months. Concerns for health are causing perceptible shifts in this pattern. and Languedoc set off sturdy or rich savory foods. any Muscat. Full-bodied red wines from Burgundy. consumption of la viande (meat) is high. improving over a long. simple preparations. there are few vegetarians in France. MEAT In today’s affluent society. Red wines that are light in character complement chicken dishes. although for the moment the trend to eat significantly less meat occurs largely at the highest rungs of the economic ladder. and Monbazillac pair with foie gras or with a salty appetizer at the beginning of a meal. wine is poured in over high heat to deglaze the pan and mix with the meat juices to form a sauce. leaving only the flavor (and color. On average. Today. but imports to meet the large demand for cuts such as steaks and roasts. wine is a cooking medium for meat stews and bean dishes. Bordeaux. each person eats 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of meat yearly. France is the foremost producer of meat in the European Union. although finite. The alcohol cooks off. These are the exceptional wines that mature and develop over time (measured in years). only slightly behind Australians (110 kilograms or 242 pounds yearly) and Americans (105 kilograms or 231 pounds) as the biggest consumers of meat in the world. After a piece of meat is sautéed in a pan. and charcuterie. . although the modern lifestyle prefers fast. the consumption of fine wines has doubled.

stewing. frying. Beef or horse chopped up and eaten raw is tartare. and small onions. leaving only the concentrated flavors of the dish. or à point (medium rare). ruining the flavor as well as the texture. and . Veal is considered white meat. Large quantities of horse bones at Upper Pleistocene sites at Solutré. Lamb. meat for stewing. such as Moroccan tagines. and boeuf Bourguignon. including chopped onion. For hachis parmentier (shepherd’s pie). sautéed.46 Food Culture in France Beef and Veal Most boeuf (beef) comes from the powerful white Charolais cows originally used as draft animals or from cows formerly bred for milk: the black-and-white Normande and the Salers from the Auvergne. bacon. Overcooking dries out the meat. are typical regional dishes. because of its color. is eaten on a smaller scale than in the past. the preferred hunting method was to drive large numbers of them off the edge of a cliff. in Burgundy. braising. Potau-feu combines several types of meat for a rich boiled dinner. and broiling. Thicker steaks are eaten bleu (“blue. The dish is baked. date the consumption of horse to prehistoric times. Lamb gives chops. Cuts of veal are roasted. Two popes. and Goat Studded with garlic and perfumed with rosemary. Provençal boeuf en daube. Nearly all methods of cooking are used for beef: boiling. much of it imported from the United States. according to preference. mushrooms. and parsley. sweet-tasting raw meat is garnished with pungent. or stewed. grilled. In the early Christian era. flavored with red wine and orange peel.” rare). Tastes do not run to well-cooked steaks. sometimes a raw egg is broken over the tartare. Fattier cuts of beef are cut into small chunks or cubes. mustard. roasting. then served cut in squares. Before horses were domesticated. salt. as the practice was associated with pagan rituals. pickles. highly flavored condiments. sautéing. Venison. Thin steaks are accompanied by fried potatoes for steak-frites. eating horse was frowned upon. or beef stew with Burgundy. and racks (with bones in) for roasting. The cuts of meat are more numerous and smaller. capers. rather than red. It features in recipes adopted from the cuisines of France’s former colonies. Gregory III in 732. then cooked slowly to make stews. Horse. Cheval (horse). ground beef is arranged in a baking pan between two layers of potatoes mashed with milk. pepper.” quite rare). stews cooked in an earthenware pot with a conical cover and a hole in the top like a chimney through which the steam escapes. The delicate. grilling. saignant (“bloody. French butchering practices differ from American. a roasted gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb) is the favorite celebration or Sunday meal.

Today. In 1866. lean. Today. enrich soups and stews. Small pieces flavor omelets. Chèvre (goat) is eaten on Corsica. which would be slaughtered for its meat. charcuterie was food for the poor. sausages. added to stews. The range of charcuterie—cured and cooked preparations primarily from pork—testifies to the ingenuity of generations of butchers and charcutiers. Chevreau (kid) is eaten in the South in the early spring. smoking and drying preserved meat that could not be consumed right away and must be stored against hunger. the government promoted horsemeat. including the skin. it was a mark of prosperity to be able to keep a pig. In the 1850s. and then fried or baked. The dictum Tout est bon dans le cochon (Everything from the pig is good) echoes this observation. A cochon de lait (suckling pig) is roasted whole. primarily in stewed and braised dishes. such as chopped raw and garnished in tartare or cooked as steaks and cutlets. and dried sausages. the taste for charcuterie is general. fillets. the first boucherie chevaline. is indispensable. forbade eating horsemeat. and garnish salads. on the principle that it would improve the diet of the laboring classes. Chevreuil (venison) is available in markets and on restaurant menus in the form of steaks. especially in the Paris region and in the Northeast toward Belgium.”2 He meant that nearly every part is edible. and pickling. the food writer Grimod de la Reynière praised the pig as “encyclopedic” and a “generous animal. smoking. meaty fresh bacon. any horsemeat that was available was cheap because it was unpopular. In the past. Lard. some preparations are marked with the AOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin). Their interdictions affected consumption throughout Europe. Horse is darker red than beef. or boucherie hippophagique.Major Foods and Ingredients 47 Zaccharias in 751. stews. wild pig) is also cooked using similar methods as for pork. opened in Paris. It is prepared like good-quality beef. drying. Pieds de porc (trotters. potatoes. and flavorful. chops. pigs’ feet) are braised. Whereas the wealthy could afford freshly slaughtered meat. More than any other meat. Horse enjoyed a short-lived rise in popularity after the mad cow scares of the 1990s. pork takes to processing through salting. farm-raised sanglier (boar. In a historically rural country. By the nineteenth century. Pork and Charcuterie Porc (pork) is relatively inexpensive and served in roasts. and pan-fried to add to . and vegetables. and ribs. In 1808. A few of the specialized butcher shops remain. or pickled. steaks. then tucked into a roast. and productivity would rise. Lardons are strips or cubes of pork back fat or lean salt pork that are seasoned.

the enormous. Saucisses de Morteau. comme entendez. wrote an offal feast into his novel Gargantua (1534): Les tripes furent copieuses. the priest turned physician. salty. and other spices that flavor them. Rillettes. professor. butchers call les abats (offal) the cinquième quartier (fifth quarter) of a slaughtered animal. Merguez are spiced beef or lamb sausages of North African origin. The “noble” cuts. Andouille or andouillettes is chitterling sausage. although the choice pieces—calf livers. lardons are served to accompany a before-dinner drink. oily texture and a sharp flavor from the salt. pale. native to Tours. mass. marinated. unctuous texture. are a staple. smoked. Whole green pistachios may add sweetness and crunch to a hunter’s venison sausage. salty hams sliced paper-thin are eaten with figs and slices of melon. creamy. and is purplish-black in color. Sliced andouille has a firm. like the Italian treatment of prosciutto. It is double-cooked: lightly poached. and none have a sweet coating on the outside. Jambons (hams). are recognized by their seal and a tiny wooden peg tied into the end of the sausage. pepper. and brains—were often reserved for feasts or celebrations. Some hearty stews are based on chunks of fresh ham. Offal has always been the cheapest meat. the meat breaks down into a smooth. kidneys. whereas saucisses sèches or saucissons secs (dry or salamitype sausages) need only to be sliced. Braised in fat. then pan-fried. and gullet. outstanding when cooked on a grill. boiled and smoked. rich. boiling sausages. jewel-like slices. Richly fatty. Dry. Ham is eaten as an appetizer. or steaks and roasts. chewy texture and a swirly appearance from the strips that compose it. and then cooked. . Rillettes are served sliced into rounds and spread on crusty bread or toast to accompany an apéritif such as a glass of dry white wine. Boudin noir (blood sausage) is coagulated beef or pig blood. and crisp. with vegetables and spices added for flavor. It appears in the spectacular cold preparation jambon persillé from Burgundy. Franç ois Rabelais. Offal In defiance of mathematics. or sliced into an omelet or quiche. soaked.48 Food Culture in France salads. Dry sausages have a firm. such as whole peppercorns. as part of a light lunch. made of pig intestines and stomach that are cleaned. shoulder. French hams are less salty than American. Saucisses or fresh sausages require cooking before being consumed. the head. is a finely textured pork sausage made from bits of the belly. Bits of pink ham and chopped bright green parsley are molded in clear aspic to make colorful. glands. derive from the two forequarters and hindquarters. the feet. It has a soft. Les abats are the rest: organ meats. and scribbler. lumpy Jésus de Morteau was originally a Christmas sausage.

animelles (testicles. Poule-au-pot (“chicken in the pot”) is a favorite dish for a weekend meal. Gras double is beef tripe that is cleaned. Most birds are raised on industrial chicken farms. The blue-footed. or lightly stewed or braised with a sauce such as tomato and red wine. however. traditionally overnight. and a tender texture from slow braising. The game birds caille (quail). Duck is considered dark or red meat. pintade (Guinea fowl). Poultry and Rabbit La volaille (poultry) is a versatile basic. Livers are also grilled. as it is large and firm. then garnished with a red wine sauce. calf. red-crested coq gaulois or Gallic cock that is the symbol of France is a Bresse fowl and has the AOC. or lamb is boiled or braised. Ris de veau (sweetbreads. the thymus gland and sometimes the pancreas). Tripes (tripe or stomach) have a honey-comblike appearance.Major Foods and Ingredients 49 et tant friandes estoient que chacun en leichoit ses doigtz (“The tripe was so copious and so luscious. canard (duck). Elegant suprême de poulet is a chicken breast stuffed with vegetables sliced very fine. Pale. Like the beef pot-au-feu. faisan (pheasant). pigeonneau (squab). France exports more poulet (chicken) than any other country in the world. and pork liver is used in pâté. sometimes as brochettes (grilled on skewers). turkey is in demand year round. then fried or sautéed. and coeur de boeuf (beef heart) are eaten. Chapon (capon). Rognons de veau (calf kidneys) have the finest texture and flavor. that everyone licked their fingers”). then gently sautéed in butter. but pork and lamb kidneys are eaten as well. and it is served with the breast done slightly rare and pink. delicate foie de veau (calf liver) is coated with a minimal dusting of flour. lemon. but butchers and supermarkets sell offal. it is a boiled dish that gives both soup and a main course from the meat. metaphorically. vinegar. There are few specialist tripiers these days. Lamb or calf cervelles (brains) are marinated. Cut into pieces. also called. Tête de veau (calf’s head) is carefully boned so that the features are maintained. white-feathered. they are sold with head and feet intact. Whole chickens are roasted to a golden brown. . then served with a sauce having a strong acidic component from tomatoes. The langue (tongue) from a cow. frivolités).. Cooked à la mode de Caen. Beef and lamb offal further features in the East European and North African Jewish and Muslim cuisines that enrich French cooking. Beef kidney requires braising. although domestic demand increases for organic and free-range birds. or wine. oie (goose). cooked. and ready to eat. they are fricasseed or braised. tripe acquires an apple flavor from cider or Calvados. Turkey and goose are fare for the Christmas season. and dinde or dindon (turkey) are eaten. then rolled before cooking.e. i.

mixtures of foie gras and fats resemble pâtés. rabbit and hare are farmed. but the wild animals are fair game for amateur hunters. ducks are given the same treatment as the geese. Phoenicians. usually as an appetizer or first course. and it is used in cooking. Goose fat lends outstanding flavor when used to pan-fry potatoes. making confit was essential for storing the meat. and omelets. Goose . before refrigeration. as kosher dietary laws permitted eating fowl. Lapin (rabbit) and lièvre (hare) are sold with poultry. Civet de lapin is rabbit stew flavored with red wine and thickened with the rabbit’s blood or with pig blood. The rendered fat prevents the meat from coming into contact with air. melting texture. and Romans ate foie gras d’oie or fattened goose liver3. so they can swallow about a cup of grain at a time if it is gently funneled into their throats. vegetables. for confit d’oie or confit de canard (preserved goose or duck). Hot preparations of foie gras are in fact heated just enough to bring out the flavors and texture. The tradition was long associated with Jewish communities in Metz and Strasbourg. More frequently they are cooked first. Good foie gras is pink and firm and has a clean-looking shine. Some fresh livers are sold raw to be cooked at home. Geese lack a gag reflex. are often sold already barded or wrapped with strips of bacon or salt pork that melt during cooking. Whole lobes are considered higher quality. which tend to dry out. bécasse (woodcock). The resulting fat is stored primarily in their livers. The traditional combination of foie gras with truffles is considered the ultimate indulgence. then sold jarred or canned. The association derives from the practice of keeping chickens and rabbits in proximity in a basse-cour (farmyard). French household manuals from as early as the sixteenth century give explicit instructions for fostering grand foie (“big liver”) in geese4 through gavage (force-feeding with grain). The small birds. both the meat prepared in this fashion and the flavors of the fats are much appreciated. and bécassine (snipe) are considered special treats. which enlarge and develop the characteristic silky.50 Food Culture in France perdrix (partridge). Plump geese and ducks raised for foie gras can be cooked and then stored in their own fat. large sections from different livers that are lightly pressed together are less expensive. At this point the foie gras requires no further cooking. giving a distinctive unctuous feel on the tongue and a dark color. It pairs with jellies and with fortified or sweet wines. Today. It is eaten hot or cold. Foie gras and Confit d’oie The Egyptians. Rabbit responds especially well to moist cooking such as a braise. Today. Most foie gras now comes from several departments in the Southwest.

poached. duck. flat. Carcassonne. garlic. Eggs appear as omelets and soufflés and in quiche Lorraine. grated cheese. industrial fishing has exhausted natural populations. an elegant entrée. they are not eaten at breakfast. by contrast. hard boiled. Eggs are scrambled. and whites are beaten up into meringues. As in the United States.5 As in many coastal countries.Major Foods and Ingredients 51 or duck fat flavors cassoulet. the exact number is a matter of debate among cooks and members of one of the gastronomic confréries (brotherhoods or associations) that is devoted to cassoulet. tomatoes) and herbs. Traditionally. As with any great dish that is widely loved. and waste and toxins pollute fishing waters. or lamb with haricots blancs (navy beans) is baked in a slow oven. and black pepper. goose. every bouillabaisse cook claims an authentic and superior recipe. the hearty stew associated with the towns of Castelnaudary. nutmeg. round frittatas heavy with vegetables or potatoes are sliced into wedges like a cake for a summer meal. ducks. and Toulouse. fried. Creamy fish and seafood soups including bisques are popular in the Atlantic region. Bouillabaisse is a Provenç al specialty from the Côte d’Azur. and stuffed. Farm fishing adds to the supply but stresses the environment. In the South. The same is true for France’s rivers. Eggs are essential in baking cakes and pastries. and quail. The international trade networks and the use of freezers make most kinds of fish and shellfish available year round. FISH Home cooks prepare poisson (fish) and fruits de mer (seafood) less frequently than they do meat because the cooking is perceived as difficult or delicate. which have supplied very little fish since the mid-twentieth century. the brown crust must be punched into the pot seven or eight times during baking. poached eggs are garnished with a clear sauce such as a red wine reduction for oeufs en meurette. yolks are used in custards. short pastry filled with savory custard flavored with ham or smoked bacon. In restaurants. to which stock . softboiled. The combination of pork rinds. people order nearly as much fish as meat. baked. Most interpretations involve a base of vegetables (onions. the term egg refers automatically to a chicken egg. EGGS Les oeufs (eggs) are made into innumerable dishes for lunch and dinner. Hard boiled eggs are combined with vegetables and a sturdy sauce to make a main dish. Cultivated fish further lack the flavor and texture of their wild counterparts. although markets and farm stands sell eggs from geese.

meaty flesh and no bones. olive oil is beaten into a mashed potato or some bread crumbs. Savory mousses. Other fish added according to preference include loup de mer or bar (sea bass). Finefleshed truite (trout) appears in classic preparations such as au bleu. and drizzled with browned butter. are anguille (eel). Saumon (salmon) has been overfished from the Loire River where it was once plentiful. then flavored with mashed fresh garlic. Fish with the best texture and flavor is not disguised in soup. and loaf-shaped terrines are based on fish that is ground to a smooth paste then mixed with seasonings. lotte (monkfish) is. In a successful au bleu. It is eaten in stews. merlan (whiting). moist flesh has long. Saint-Pierre (John Dory). and spiny-scaled grondin (gurnard). and. lacks tomatoes but contains mussels along with white fish such as cabillaud (cod) and lotte (monkfish). Rouille is spread on toast or stirred by the spoonful directly into the soup. and shellfish. carrelet (plaice). as well. herbs. Raie (skate. The flatfish turbot (turbot) and sole (sole) are among the finest fish eaten. Bourride. The silky. dumplings. baked. rouget or barbet (mullet). For rouille. or steamed. Because of its famously hideous appearance. grilled. fresh mayonnaise flavored with crushed garlic. daurade (bream). brochet (pike). strongly flavored . salt. broiled. imported Atlantic salmon is what is usually eaten. sprinkled with lemon juice and chopped parsley. delicate flakes and is best treated with the utmost simplicity. scorpion fish) is the cornerstone. and merlu (hake). the fish dramatically curls and splits. Bourride is pale in color and enriched with cream. frying and smoking feature in fish cookery. herbed cooking liquid acidulated with vinegar. as well as main dishes. another fish soup. but rather poached. Rascasse (Mediterranean rockfish. some with stuffings made of finely chopped vegetables. Saffron gives color and flavor.52 Food Culture in France or water is added. it is the only fish that is rolled and tied into roasts. the sauce that takes its color from cayenne pepper. thon (tuna). Other fish that feature in soups and sauces. It is common to add a few fennel seeds and a shot of anise-flavored liquor such as pastis or some white wine. They have inspired numerous preparations. followed by several kinds of fish and shellfish. carpe (carp). In the South. ray) gives triangular ailes (wings). chilies or cayenne pepper. It has flavorful. sometimes an egg yolk is added to make the sauce richer. because of the unusual firmness of the flesh. unless very large. and pepper. exceptionally. Quenelles are light-textured fish dumplings that are poached and sauced. never sold whole. Fish soups are accompanied by a red-brown rouille (“rust”). Fish cooked à la meunière is floured and pan fried. It is served with toast and aïoli. Oursinade is fish soup served with sea urchins and a creamy mixture of egg yolks and butter. but always beheaded. Trout cooked au bleu is poached in spiced.

Larger than shrimp but smaller than lobster in size. This delicacy is lightly salted. Hareng bouffi is in fact a whole herring.Major Foods and Ingredients 53 Mediterranean sardines are fried or else arranged on grape leaves and vine twigs. the mashed salt cod is mixed with mashed potatoes or bread crumbs. This becomes the sauce. such as in creamy bisques. Tourteaux (larger crabs) appear with smaller shellfish and with homard (lobster) on spectacular cold seafood platters. Reddish. Shell fish appear in soups and sauces and in stuffings for larger fish. then smoked. Pablo Picasso painted the picture Le Gobeur d’oursins (1946) showing a happy eater gobbling (gober) down this delicacy directly from the shell. firm-fleshed poulpe (octopus) is cut into . so that the fish absorb the flavor of the vines. and crevettes grises (tiny North Sea prawns) are often paired with a creamy sauce. Calmars or encornets (squid) are also stuffed. moules-frites is a favorite bistro meal. silky huîtres (oysters) and palourdes (clams) are eaten raw on the half-shell and cooked. intact but still “stuffed” with spawn. While living on the Côte d’Azur. SHELLFISH Mollusks such as briny. both oily fish. then broiled or served as fillets with green salad. Coquilles SaintJacques and pétoncles (large and small scallops) are sold with the smooth orange roe sac attached to the white cylinder of flesh. people use one of the half-shells as a spoon and scoop out the meat from the other mussels. Accras (Caribbean fried codfish balls) have become a popular appetizer and are purchased freshly made from caterers. The moules are steamed open in a broth lightly flavored with tomato. Crustaceans such as crevettes (shrimp) from the North Atlantic. milk or cream. although ostensibly of Belgian origin. Scallops are quickly seared over high heat or baked in a sauce that is somewhat liquid. and salt and pepper. an echinoderm having a porcupine-like exterior but yellow-orange lobes that are buttery in texture and sweetly briny. To eat moules. then baked. the fried potatoes are on the side. The Mediterranean cephalopods are popular quickly fried and served with slices of lemon. Harengs (herring) are no longer fished in French waters. The Mediterranean coast provides oursin (sea urchin). Moules (mussels) are always cooked. then grilled. Stockfisch (dried salted cod) is soaked in water or milk to rehydrate it and reduce the salt. langoustines (Dublin Bay prawns) and langoustes (crayfish) appear in cold and in hot preparations. or else slowly braised. Étrilles (small crabs) lend excellent flavor to soups. are often lightly smoked. For brandade de morue. Rollmops or herring fillets marinated in vinegar are served cold with boiled potatoes. but supplies are purchased from elsewhere. Herring and maquereau (mackerel).

For serving. They are best deep-fried or pan fried. smooth texture and a slightly fishy flavor. they are imported frozen from Turkey. Northerners spoke the langue d’oï l or language of oï l. the butter melts over the tiny beast. mounds dating to Roman times attest the long tradition of eating escargots (snails). and a miniature fork with sharp tines to spear the snail. then replaced in the shells. beef fat) and saindoux (lard. Seiches (cuttlefish) are cooked whole. although the Catholic Church granted dispensations to areas where oil was rare and expensive. as in other parts of Europe such as Italy. frog legs are served with slices of lemon for garnish. Northerners used graisse de boeuf (suet. which are filled up with butter mashed with chopped herbs and garlic. pork fat) from their animals. when they were especially popular. mollusks found on land. while southerners spoke the langue d’oc. Like fish. North was also distinguished from south by the fat used as a cooking medium. Special utensils are used: a rounded tongs to hold the shell steady. BUTTER AND OIL It used to be possible to distinguish northerners from southerners by the way they said “yes” (oui). associated with the cattle regions of Normandy and Brittany. Snails are most often prepared in the typical Burgundian fashion. cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs) are flown in frozen from China. Today.6 The cuisses de grenouille have a silky. FROGS The grenouilles (frogs) to which the French owe their nickname are indeed widely appreciated. Fresh water lakes were the source for frogs during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. plates with round concavities stabilize the shells. In the oven. They are cleaned. beurre (butter) and other animal fats were to be avoided on fast days. which has a much older tradition of eating frog. Southerners used huile d’olive (olive oil) pressed from the fruit grown in their warmer territories. has a deep yellow color and a richly developed . SNAILS In France.54 Food Culture in France pieces for cold dressed salads or braising. Theoretically. making a highly flavored sauce that can be sopped up with a piece of bread. so they do not roll.7 The best farmhouse butter.

while providing protein and. Fresh milk in France is pasteurized (heat treated at 75–85 degrees C for 15–30 seconds) or sterilized at even higher temperatures. so it is used for deepfrying and pan-frying over high heat. FRESH CHEESE. and fruits—France’s local version of the Mediterranean diet. Huile de palme or de coprah (palm oil) and huile de soja (soy oil) are used in industrial contexts such as making packaged cookies and biscuits. preserving milk over time. vegetables. and the nut oils are used in baking. and de noix (walnut) feature in salads and dressings that show off their outstanding taste. yesterday’s generous use of butter is considered heavy-handed and old-fashioned. and Turkey. however. and quality of flavor. It is used in cooking and is indispensable in pastry making. olive oil connoisseurship is on the rise. Fats and oils carry fatty acids essential to growth and reproduction. CREAM. Imported huile d’arachide (peanut oil) is neutral in flavor and has a high smoking point. along with fat-soluble vitamins A and E. referred to as la cuisine au beurre (butter cuisine). Butter is spread on bread for a plain tartine and for sandwiches with ham. especially olive oil. The grades and labels for olive oil reflect the pressing (first or subsequent). Mild-flavored huile de colza (canola or rapeseed oil) and huile de tournesol (sunflower oil) are domestically grown and the most widely used oils for everyday cooking and for making salad dressings and mayonnaise. in the case of cheese. AND YOGURT Lait (milk) and laitages (dairy products) have always been much cheaper than meat. the more healthful unsaturated fats predominate over saturated fat (associated with blood cholesterol increase). Olive oil is key to Provenç al cooking. or cheese.Major Foods and Ingredients 55 flavor. Butter is associated with distinguished. Milk is drunk plain primarily by infants and children. Italy. fruity. Most milk sold is from cows. Greece. hard sausage. France produces olive oil in the South and imports it from Spain. MILK. most goat and sheep milk goes into cheese.6 kg annually and growing8. to very mild. By today’s standards. Olive oil varies in color from bright green to yellow and in flavor from lively. degree of acidity. with its greater use of grains. rich cooking. Milk that is flash-treated at 145 degrees C for UHT (ultra-haute température or ultra-high temperature) sterilization can then be stored at room temperature in sealed tetrapacks until opened. In liquid vegetable oils. Average consumption for olive oil is 1. as well. and peppery for the green oils. Hot milk is essential to the breakfast . Rarer huile de pépins de raisins (grapeseed oil). de noisettes (hazelnut).

for a snack. It is the last savory course. Some types. although other descriptors are used. salt. and pepper. Cheese Fromage (cheese). a plate of two or three or more cheeses is passed around. the appreciation of cheese is so highly developed that cheese is eaten as a course all its own in a full meal. . eventually spreading through the Middle East and central Europe. Fromage blanc is eaten as a sweet or a savory. to be eaten with bread and wine. Sprinkled with sugar and served with fruit. People like to joke that the higher a cheese smells. such as hard Cantal and blue-veined Roquefort. whether very young and moist. Crème fraîche is slightly fermented. milk is added to soups. and chicory coffee. Fromage blanc is not technically cheese. before the fruit or dessert. and sauces. the curds are beaten to create a smooth texture. Aged cheeses develop heady odors. Most yogurt is industrial. The flat-topped pyramid with a flower of blue mold on the outside is Pouligny-Saint-Pierre. The tiny round Crottin de Chavignol is named after the Loire village. is a chèvre. A dollop garnishes desserts made with slightly acidic cooked fruits and cakes that are on the dry side. Most names for cheese refer to the place of origin. and firm. or aged. To conclude a formal or festive meal. It is eaten at breakfast. Yogurt has been widely eaten in France only since the 1960s. Any goat milk cheese. Garnished with chopped chives. is synonymous with France. This is often true. Cheese was vital to store milk. sauces. or to replace the cheese course. purées of vegetables and potatoes. it is dessert. It has numerous uses in cooking. and baked gratins to give them smoothness and body. Artisanal and farm-house products are usually bought in specialty shops and market cheese stands. akin to sour cream. it is the cheese course or the basis of a light lunch. the better it tastes. Each person takes a small slice or triangle of the cheeses. bought plain or sweetened in individually sized containers. were already attested in Roman Gaul. but crottin (a horse or sheep dropping) is an earthy. Cream is beaten into crème Chantilly (whipped cream) and added to soups. and some of the worst olfactory offenders are quite mild in flavor. also chicory. made of sheep’s milk. crumbly. Today. like wine and bread. Factory produced cheeses are available in supermarkets. Yaourt or yogourt (yogurt) originated near the Black Sea and the Caucasus.56 Food Culture in France drinks: café au lait (coffee with milk) and hot chocolate. but simply milk that has been curdled. In cooking. humorous reference to its shape. Goat cheese in a small round disk is called Cabécou.

Blue mold or blue veined cheeses include the Bleus d’Auvergne. The family of hard cheeses that includes Gruyère de Comté and Emmental are aged from curds that have gone through an additional cooking process to make them firmer and dryer. and Saint-Marcellin. Mild. These include Brie de Meaux. which has a blue-gray layer of wood ash across the middle. For the softer cheeses. and Cantal. and colleagues in Saint-Haon-le-Châtel. goats. the rind is eaten. but it must be trimmed off the firm cheeses. and Munster. Tomme de Savoie. such as potatoes au gratin and the onion soup famously served at Les . Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. which people eat with a sprinkling of caraway seeds. Grated hard cheese is sprinkled on dishes that are browned in the oven. which can be eaten quite dry. Pont-l’Évêque. which becomes practically liquid when ripe and is eaten with a spoon. is 75 percent fat. Bleu des Causses. named for the food-writer and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.Major Foods and Ingredients 57 Master cheese maker and affineur (specialist in aging cheese) Hervé Mons with goat milk cheeses. the square Carré de l’Est. creamy Savarin. Pressed cheeses for slicing include sweet-pungent Morbier. and Roquefort. Semisoft cow milk cheeses with white mold rinds are fromages à croûte fleurie. Red mold cheeses with washed rinds include Époisses. its more recently invented relative Camembert.

savory puffs called gougères often served as an appetizer.58 Food Culture in France Halles marketplace in Paris. As in many cuisines.E. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. and salt in a saucepan. making sure each egg is absorbed before adding the next one. salt has been harvested from Breton palus or paludes (marshes. until the gougères are golden brown and puffy. Grated cheese flavors the light. remove the pan from the heat. Burgundian Baked Cheese Puffs (Gougères) • 1 cup water • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter • pinch salt • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour • 4 large eggs • 2/3 cup plus an additional 1/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese Preheat the oven to 425° F. AND CONDIMENTS FOR SAVORY COOKING Most any home cook draws judiciously on a selection of mild épices (spices) and herbes (herbs) to vary the texture. proverbs about salt abound in France as elsewhere. HERBS. Use a pastry bag to squeeze the batter into rings. and berries. flavor..C. sel (salt) and poivre (pepper) are the most basic spices in French cooking. roots. butter. and color of foods. leaves the side of the pan. Serve warm or prick the bottoms with a skewer or sharp-pointed knife to allow the steam to escape and cool on a wire rack. and continue to cook until the batter thickens. Along with proverbs about bread and wine. place the water. Spices are often–although not always–of exotic provenance. or else use two tablespoons to drop the batter like cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets. and stir it into the liquid. When the butter has melted completely. Mix in the 2/3 cup of grated cheese. one at a time. The traditional and regional dishes are richly flavored. SPICES. salt flats). Add the flour. Many herbs are native to Europe if not to French territory. The term spice usually refers to dried bark. To make the pâte à choux (puff paste). . and coheres into a ball. Beat in the eggs. An herb is usually a leaf. but they are not spicy. Since about 700 B. and bring to the boiling point. Remove the pan once again from the heat. thanks in part to the addition of herbs and spices. Return the pan to low heat. buds. Sprinkle the additional 1/3 cup of grated cheese on the puffs. Atlantic salt is harvested from the Île de Ré and the Guérande peninsula. using a wooden spoon.

and it is made from hotter red-brown seeds. Bright red threads of safran (saffron). It serves as a cooking medium and to deglaze the pan for meat and fish sauces. and it is used this way in charcuterie. and cloves that flavors pâtés and meat dishes. Historically. Whole black peppercorns stud dried sausages. Dishes labeled à la diable (deviled) are seasoned with mustard. Moutarde (mustard). is also used. warm flavor. Cider vinegar. They balance rich elements such as butter or cream to make sauces for meats. from vin aigre. Vinegar is a key condiment and cooking ingredient. In the Southwest. sour wine) is made from wine that is fermented so that the alcohol converts to acetic acid. sweet summer fruits such as figs and pears are cooked with pepper. grainy. Most vinaigre (vinegar. Quatre épices (four spices) is a standard combination of white pepper. This is used in light-colored dishes such as mashed potatoes and cream sauces. It goes into sauces including vinaigrette (oil and vinegar dressing). It flavors sauces. made by the same process. Coarser sea salts still gray from the presence of marine minerals or flecked with seaweed add a decorative touch along with their special flavors to finished dishes. Saffron adds color to egg glazes for pastry and to butter used in fish and chicken dishes. White pepper is more common in the kitchen than on the eating table. cold cuts. is ubiquitous in the kitchen and on the table. Green peppercorns are picked before they are ripe. Smooth Dijon mustard is made from milder yellow seeds. Common refined fleur de sel (kitchen salt) is what most people keep on hand for cooking and for table use. the dried stigmas and styles (female organs) from the Crocus sativus. It imparts a yellow-orange color and a clean. Rustic. sausages. or a sausage may be coated with a crunchy hot layer of cracked peppercorns. nutmeg. salad dressings. is sprinkled into fish soups and added to baked goods. Mustard is a condiment for boiled meats. old-style mustard has in it brownish bits of hull as well as crushed seed. Clou de girofle (clove) spices winter fruit compotes. then blended with spices and vinegar to form a pungent mixture. Removing the external coating of black peppercorns leaves white pepper. .Major Foods and Ingredients 59 and Mediterranean salt comes from Aigues-Mortes. and marinades. Muscat (nutmeg) and macis (mace) are added to cooked vegetables and sweet egg dishes such as custards. then pickled in brine to avoid discoloration. whose heat sets off the fruit. pickles. The seeds are crushed or ground. especially any made with fish. and omelets. like vinegar. cinnamon or dried ground ginger. and glazes and dressings for oven-bound dishes such as rabbit or chicken. salt was vital to preserve meat.

thyme. Chopped sautéed oignons (onions) combine with carrot and celery as the basis for many dishes. salad dressings. AND LEEKS The Allium genus is all-important for French cooking. garlic is ubiquitous in the cooking of the South. then dropped into broths. basilique (basil). in pistou (pesto) for stirring into vegetable and bean soups. parsley is essential in cooking and as a raw garnish. tarragon. estragon (tarragon). Persillade is finely chopped parsley and either shallots or garlic added to a hot dish just before the cooking is done. and sometimes sarriette (savory) and romarin (rosemary). this and a salad of braised leeks with vinaigrette dressing are . sauces. and thyme is used in fish dishes. salted anchovies. Bouquet garni includes sprigs of parsley. is used in pickling and is served with Munster cheese. and olive oil. Vichyssoise is leek and potato soup. and whole unpeeled gousses (garlic cloves) accompany chicken roasting in the oven. Basil is the primary flavor. Tarragon flavors lamb and chicken and goes into sauces. along with crushed garlic. salt. composed of fresh minced persille (parsley). By itself. laurier (bay leaf). Minced échalottes (shallots) add zest to green salads. native to southern Europe. savory. Cooking onions very slowly until they are sweet. thym (thyme). A feuille de laurier (bay leaf) is added to marinades and to pots of beans and lentils. Anis (anise seed). and pots of vegetables to lend flavor in cooking. and genièvre (juniper berry) flavors game and pork. Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs that may include rosemary. and herbed mayonnaise. Standard combinations of herbs flavor many dishes. Along with tomatoes and olive oil. the flat-leaf variety is typical in the South. Poireaux (leeks) flavor soups and sometimes appear in a bouquet garni used for soup. Fines herbes. and they are the principal ingredient in soupe à l’ognion (onion soup). it tops Provençal pissaladière (onion pizza).60 Food Culture in France Carvi (caraway seed). Curly-leaf parsley appears in the North. Sauge (sage) flavors pork and game. is the principal flavoring for pastis and is used in fish dishes and southern pastries. cerfeuil (chervil). go into omelets. Ail (garlic) is roasted. and ciboulette (chives). soft. The herbs are tied together. associated with German and Scandinavian cooking. and caramelized makes confit or savory jam that accompanies meat dishes. and lavande (lavender). flavored with mashed. marjolaine (marjoram). It flavors roasts and chops as well as chicken destined for baking. ONIONS. Coriandre (coriander seed) is paired with meat. SHALLOTS. and it is added to southern sauces with a tomato base. poaching liquids. GARLIC.

Major Foods and Ingredients 61 Braised leeks accompany poached fish. most pâtes eaten in France are made within the country. as an herb. greens. AND POTATOES Of Italian origin. Semolina flour (from hard wheat) and water make a paste that traditionally was rubbed between the hands into tiny balls.9 Today. pasta were made using hard or durum wheat flour in Paris. seafood. and Algeria. Spicy Tunisian harissa (a paste of red pepper. carrots. but the shapes borrow from the Italian traditions. onions. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. has become a typical dish. Couscous steams in the fragrant vapors coming up off a stew whose ingredients vary: lamb. an innovation from the Rhineland. Later. pumpkin. and olive oil). the stew is then served with the steamed pasta. PASTA. coriander. RICE. Ciboulette (chive) is used both raw and cooked. and vegetables are all common components. is added at table as a sauce. Sweet couscous prepared . Morocco. Couscous. Pasta and noodles are most often boiled and eaten as a side dish for meats. fish. and Marseille. cumin. more or less diluted with hot water or broth. GRAINS. The exception is Alsatian nouilles (egg noodles). the most common preparations. A typical Moroccan couscous combines lamb. turnips. crushed garlic. and chickpeas. Clermont-Ferrand. pâtes (pasta) seem to have been made in France by northern Jews as early as the eleventh century and in Provence within the next 200 years. eaten in the former colonies of Tunisia.

New World maïs (corn) has been adopted in a very limited fashion. melted Mix or pulse to blend together in a blender or food processor the flours and salt. and related preparations appear in Basque cooking. More interestingly. Many people have a couscoussier or couscous steamer in their home kitchens. is now little used in cooking. Rice consumption has more than tripled since the 1970s. Breton Buckwheat Crêpes (Galettes bretonnes or galettes de sarrasin) • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour • 1 cup all-purpose flour • pinch salt • 4 large eggs • 1 1/4 cups apple cider • 1 1/4 cups milk • 1/4 cup water • 1/4 cup unsalted butter. cucumber. Add eggs. borrows the Italian tradition of making polente (polenta) out of cornmeal. and people do steam it alone (without making the stew) to eat as they would pasta of Italian origin. Corn is eaten as flakes in cereal. and spices. such as spice breads. although cream of barley. a powder ground from the grain. the Lebanese salad with olive oil. Cracked wheat. cultivated in Brittany. Riz (rice) was cultivated in the wet Camargue region from the seventeenth century through the mid-twentieth century. Orge (barley). thickens soups and boiled dishes. chopped parsley. Seigle (rye) is used in bread-making and in a few sweet baked goods. Blé noir or sarrasin (buckwheat). raisins. The word couscous refers both to the pasta and to the finished dish. Nice. scallions. lemon juice. is made into tabbouleh. as corn is still thought of primarily as animal fodder. and now nearly all is imported. used in making ale and then beer. formerly part of the Italian Piedmont. and melted butter to make a . or bulgur. water. cider.62 Food Culture in France with nuts. is the key ingredient for the dark crêpes associated with that region. Long-grained rice is used in cold salads and in side dishes for meat. tomato. and canned corn added to cold salads. Dried industrial couscous is available. milk. and flavorings such as rosewater is a festive dessert. and it has come back into fashion among bakers of organic and whole-grain breads. Shortgrained or Arborio rices are made into desserts such as gâteau de riz (rice cake) and puddings. Épeautre (spelt) goes into Provenç al soups.

Cook about a minute. then pour in batter to thinly coat the pan (about 1/3 cup of batter for a 12-inch pan). Boiled or steamed potatoes are eaten in salads or tossed with butter. with a filling or plain. covered. sautéed. Serve hot. Swirl the pan to spread the batter over the bottom of the pan and up its sides (if using a crêpe pan). No matter what the preparation. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. until the crêpe is brown on the bottom and at the edges and set firm in the middle.e. . Most potatoes presently cultivated and eaten in France are the BF 15. Bintje. Brush lightly with butter. but always removed before cooking or just before serving. pan-fried. Turn the crêpe out flat onto a plate or board. Pommes frites (French fries or fried potatoes) are popular. Let the batter stand for one hour. Fold it in quarters or turn in the edges to make a square. potatoes) were first introduced. Makes about 15 crêpes..Major Foods and Ingredients thin batter. Now it is difficult to imagine French cooking without them. and added to stews and soups. or refrigerate overnight. Purée de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes) is served as a side dish Peeling potatoes for cooking. 63 When exotic New World pommes de terre (“earth apples.” i. they were viewed with great suspicion. and Ratte varieties. Briefly blend or mix the batter once more. Potatoes are sliced and baked. the peel is not eaten. Heat a crêpe pan or large flat saucepan until very hot.

cocos. sausages. Dried green beans called haricots verts and chevriers go with lamb. or bacon for flavor. prepared for cooking. Chickpeas go into couscous and salads. légumes à gousses (pulses) were staples. where they are usually bought frozen and already peeled. larger. Today. peas and beans provide complete proteins that contribute to a healthy diet with little meat or none at all. flatter. Lentils and split peas are often combined with pork. Eaten in combination with grain. pulses usually accompany meat or fish as a separate course or side dish. Fresh green and white beans at the Place des Halles market in Dijon. whose flavorful juices they absorb. Potatoes are a mainstay of student cafeterias and other industrial restaurants. Pulses are the edible seeds of pod-bearing plants cultivated for food. Haricots blancs. sliced. firm. or dried in powder for purée. . Tiny. pale green and yellow varieties go into soups and purées.64 Food Culture in France and may be further elaborated into fried croquettes (puffs). green Puys lentils are used in salads and served with salmon. PULSES In the past. Pois chiches (chickpeas) and fèves (fava beans) were particularly important in the southern regions. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. and lingots (dried white beans) combine with meat in rich stews such as garbure and cassoulet and marry well with cream and tomatoes.

Narrowly sliced into a chiffonnade (ribbons). which may be a plain tossed lettuce mixture. and raisins as in other areas of the Mediterranean. Salsify or oyster plant (salsifis) is cooked with butter. Raw celery root is grated. carottes (carrots) are eaten cooked. Small red and white radis (radishes) are dipped in salt and eaten raw along with bread and butter. or puréed. cooked pulses such as lentils tossed with vinaigrette and some sliced onion. and made into a purée or soup. The composed salads often include cooked vegetables and pieces of cheese or meat. added to soups and stews. Provence’s characteristic vegetable is chard. rather than raw. and even fruits such as the tomate (tomato). cream. Greens such as sour oseille (sorrel) and spicy dark green cresson (watercress) add color and flavor to soups and sauces. except when grated and dressed as part of a platter of crudités (composed salad of raw vegetables—a colorful mosaic). rhizomes. or meat juice from whatever it will accompany. Once it is scrubbed under running water. In the sweet version of tourte aux blettes (chard tart). They also appear in some cooked dishes. Curly-leafed chou de Savoie or chou frisé (Savoy cabbage) is stuffed. and braised. or a salade composée “composed” from whatever is at hand and attractively arranged on a flat plate. leaves. associated with Alsatian cooking. the outer rind is trimmed. from .Major Foods and Ingredients 65 VEGETABLES The term légume (vegetable) as used in everyday speech covers several botanical groups: roots. dressed with mustard vinaigrette or with cream. mashed. Vegetables are eaten in savory preparations as side dishes and as individual courses of a main meal. hairy. They feature in sturdy winter soups and stews to which navets (turnips) are usually added. Horseradish also garnishes boiled meat dishes like pot-au-feu. sometimes garnished with morsels of hot lard. although very small. tender. as well. Épinards (spinach) are usually served cooked. The French are masters of the salad. and the vegetable is then cut into chunks. pine nuts. Grated betteraves (beets) also appear served in discrete. flowers. Among the root vegetables. carrots form a vegetable course. Steamed. forbidding-looking céleri-rave (celery root or celeriac) is appreciated for its warm celery flavor and versatility. Chou (white cabbage) is eaten salted or pickled as choucroute (sauerkraut). which is often cooked with olive oil. and they are prominent in soups and stews. individually dressed mounds on the plate of crudités. braised in milk. and served with slices of salty dry ham. The giant. sorrel lends its lemony tang to eggs and fish. The bulbous. young leaves appear in salads. such as braised with lettuce and peas. as well. tempestuous raifort (horseradish) is grated and tempered with crème fraîche or unsweetened whipped cream as a garnish for smoked fish.

or French beans) are a favorite vegetable across the country. Other popular salad greens include scarole. Fleshy fenouil (fennel bulb) is sliced raw to eat with lemon or with a full-fledged dressing for a salad. as in combination with peas. it is most often eaten raw. then dressed with a rich sauce such as hollandaise (based on butter and egg yolks) or served à la bagna cauda. larger ones are cooked whole then served with a vinaigrette or melted butter and lemon as a sauce for dipping the leaves. composed salads appear now on restaurant menus as first courses or on full-sized plates as a main dish. Classic simple preparations flavor the peas with a small quantity of sugar. and served with tomato sauce or meat marrow. alongside boiled meats. pale yellow endives (Belgian endive). eggs. Fennel stalks and leaves are . Petits-pois (fresh green peas) came into fashion in the seventeenth century and have remained popular ever since. France is the biggest producer in the world of compact. Tiny artichauts (artichokes) are eaten raw with salt. grated apple. and it is an ingredient in some tomato sauces. For plain green salad.66 Food Culture in France Nice. seeded. lemon. They are boiled in salted water. A head of lettuce is often referred to simply as une salade (a salad). The sweet hearts are braised in water. They combine with other vegetables in composed salads and appear in soups and purées. Green salads are served after the main dish in a full meal. or green leaf lettuce is tossed with oil-and-vinegar dressing that may be emulsified with mustard or flavored with a sliver of garlic or a spoonful of minced shallot. A few classic preparations call for cooked or braised lettuce. mâche (corn salad or lamb’s lettuce). or in a blanc or white cooking liquid consisting of boiling water and a bit of flour. and anchovy. and sliced. and peppery roquette (rocket or arugula). Céleri (celery) is blanched. It is dressed with olive oil and lemon in a salade grècque (Greek salad) with tomatoes or else sauced with cream and chives or mint. Bibb-type lettuce. or cornette (chicory or curly endive). Haricots verts (fresh green beans. escarole. however. Stalky cardes (cardoons) are cooked like artichoke hearts. powdered sugar. Most often the whole vegetable is steamed or blanched and served hot under a béchamel sauce with ham. lemon juice. It is also braised or blanched to be eaten cooked. when their cool crunch refreshes the palate. then served with butter alongside roasted or grilled meat. and a dash of Parmesan cheese make a custard that balances the flavor and texture of the vegetable. Raw endive leaves add a silky crunch to salad. and olive oil. Classical cooking gives methods for cooking concombre (cucumber). minced garlic. string beans. braised. with the Provenç al dressing of olive oil. Fresh laitues (lettuces) mean green salad to most people. then add mint and butter or lettuce and cream. Romaine.

None are native. poivron (bell pepper). Tomato halves sprinkled . Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. grown under mounds to avoid exposure to light. or with vinaigrette dressing. Asparagus are steamed or boiled. White asperge (asparagus). the florettes are fried. and cauliflower at market. is preferred over green. The aubergine (eggplant). All four are eaten stuffed with meat. carrots.Major Foods and Ingredients 67 Everyday vegetables in inviting profusion: lettuce. The vegetable is thick. and courgette (zucchini) are workhorses in the French kitchen. cucumbers. Cooked chou-fleur (cauliflower) appears boiled or steamed in composed salads. Peppers and tomatoes are New World plants that were brought back to Europe in the late Renaissance. dry Mediterranean climate of the South. Chou-fleur d’Italie or broccoli (broccoli) made its way to France from Italy and is still somewhat less common than cauliflower. often served with a creamy or eggy sauce such as hollandaise. placed under fish that is grilling to give it flavor. Zucchini traveled from Italy into France. It is usually converted to purée or made into a cream soup. Indian eggplant was introduced to Spain during the Middle Ages by the Moors and from there made its way to Italy and France. most often it is par-boiled then baked au gratin with milk or cream and grated cheese. or breadcrumbs. rice. Eggplant is roasted then diced into cold salads. Zucchini puréed with cream and butter is a side dish that is much appreciated in the summer. but all flourish in the warm. tomate (tomato). and usually requires peeling. but it has a mild flavor. sometimes woody toward the bottom.

then put in the eggplant. and sliced • 1 eggplant (about 1 pound). Add the tomatoes. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to heat in the skillet. halved and seeded • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic • 6 sprigs thyme. Sauté the zucchini about 6 minutes until lightly browned. as in the summer stew ratatouille. Strips of roasted. transfer to a large bowl. and transfer to the bowl. membranes removed. The quartet of vegetables is particularly associated with southern cooking. light-colored. Stir in the rest of the parsley and the basil. Summer Vegetable Stew (Ratatouille) • 7 tablespoons olive oil • 1 pound zucchini and/or yellow crookneck squash. watching carefully to prevent them from browning much. Serve hot. Cook until the eggplant is soft. and cook for 10 more minutes. Occasionally it is co-opted for service in egg desserts such as pumpkin flan or pumpkin crème brûlée. stir gently to mix. cold. Season with salt and pepper. thyme and half the parsley. Return all the vegetables in the bowl back into the pan with the tomatoes. and smooth in texture (about 8 or 9 minutes). and used in couscous. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. but not mushy. sautéed in butter. Using a slotted spoon. The vegetables should be cooked through and tender. sliced into rounds • 2 green or red peppers. Citrouille or potiron (pumpkin) is made into soups. Take the pan off the heat.68 Food Culture in France with herbs and bread crumbs and then baked to concentrate the flavors accompany meat. cut into 1-inch cubes • 2 pounds tomatoes. baked in the oven. and sauté the onion and garlic about 3 minutes. then sauté the sliced peppers for 5 minutes. seeded. leaves stripped from the stems • 6 tablespoons chopped parsley • 8 tablespoons chopped basil • salt • ground black pepper Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. . Add to the bowl with the other vegetables. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. peeled peppers are made into cold salads. or at room temperature. Pour the last tablespoon of olive oil into the pan.

For modest budgets. and put into soups. they have a rich. where the best ones grow. baked. At best. In the past. although the four-legged assistants must be prevented from eating their finds. Although they look like dark chunks of coal or earth. braised. They are cooked into compotes and used to stuff pastries . usually underneath oak trees from which they derive carbonic nutrients and to which they give back mineral salts and other elements.Major Foods and Ingredients 69 MUSHROOMS The fungi known as champignons (mushrooms) grow naturally in wooded areas or meadows. France is now the world’s third-largest producer of cultivated mushrooms. truffes (truffles) grow wild in forested areas. pâtés. Truffles All but impossible to cultivate. they are quite expensive and fetch high prices on the market. mineral flavor and a natural sweetness. Netted black morilles (morels) and dense. Chicken roasted with slices of black truffle tucked under the skin is called demi-deuil (half-mourning) because of the dark appearance the truffles give the bird. Bits of truffle steeped in high-quality oils impart their perfume to salads. and cream sauces for pasta. fried. golden chanterelles or girolles (chanterelles) do appear in markets. FRUITS Fresh fruits are eaten out of hand for a snack and as a sweet course at the end of a meal. Truffle hunters develop an eye for locating patches in forested areas and are notoriously secretive about this information. dark. Mushrooms are sautéed. Eggs delicately scrambled over very low heat with black truffle is a typical treatment. shavings of black truffle are added to excellent effect to omelets. grilled. Truffles are especially associated with the Périgord. Generous quantities of truffles feature in the old aristocratic cuisine and in contemporary elite restaurant cooking. Truffles are so hard to spot that people train pigs and dogs to sniff them out. creamy color. but mushrooms must be gathered under the supervision of an experienced person who can distinguish edible ones from poisonous varieties that look similar. Truffles are so highly prized that they are called diamants noirs (black diamonds). Mushrooming is popular in the countryside. of the type called champignons de Paris or champignons blonds for their pale. they were also cultivated in caves and abandoned underground stone quarries. and they are often cooked in combination with cream and chicken. Other varieties are gathered wild. long-stemmed.

jellies. Green and black figues (figs) and grenades (pomegranates) with their ruby flesh have been cultivated for centuries in Provence. preserves. Its long. Other fruits exotiques (“exotic” or tropical fruits) imported for sale in markets include mangoes and star-fruit. myrtilles (blueberries)—are eaten fresh served in small bowls. pitted drupes such as nectarines (nectarines) and meltingly sweet brugnons (white nectarines). a member of the knotgrass family. ice cream. The most popular melons are the small green-skinned varieties known as Chantal. and figs also appear in jams. to be eaten with a . Prunes (plums) came west to France with Crusaders returning from Syria. otherwise the crust becomes soggy underneath the apples. then pull the fruit right off the stem with their teeth. is treated like the firm fruits. The trick is to eat the dessert straight out of the oven. Imported bananes are widely available in shops and nearly always eaten raw. astringent stems are sliced. Soft-fleshed. cooked in syrup. then arranged in a pan with a single layer of short crust on top. Rhubarbe (rhubarb). Hard. In recent years the New Zealand kiwi has become extremely popular and is now widely cultivated in France. poached. red. and Charentais. ices. but most apples are transformed by cooking into pastries and desserts. purple-black pruneaux d’Agen (prunes) are a specialty of the Lot-et-Garonne region in the Southwest. or cerises (cherries) are placed whole in bowls on the table after a meal in summer for dessert. Prunes d’Ente and fat. sour coings (quinces). the tart is turned upside-down to reveal the caramelized apples. caramelized by sautéing in sugar and butter. fleshy. flavor yogurt. jewel-like groseilles (red currants) with the fingers. Their juicy orange flesh is intensely sweet and flavorful. and made into tarts and pastries. and ice creams. and form sauces that accompany pork or game. Apples are sliced into large pieces or quartered. Pommes (apples) are the most popular fruit and account for approximately one-quarter of all fruit eaten.70 Food Culture in France and fill tarts. which is enjoyed as a Christmas sweet. framboises (raspberries). and on flat cakes. these fruits stuff pastries and top cakes. Cooked. In the industrial context they are squeezed for juice and puréed or reduced to syrups used to sweeten and flavor yogurt. They are eaten raw in the late summer when they ripen. abricots (apricots). and pâte de coing (quince paste). Poires (pears) are eaten raw. The berries— fraises (strawberries). These fruits rouges (“red fruits” or berries) also garnish tarts and cakes. they are usually served halved. After baking. Cavaillon. and people take up sprays of delicate. are cooked into compote. or baked in wine. pêches (peaches). Tarte Tatin or upside-down apple tart appears on restaurant dessert menus and is baked at home to end a festive dinner. and candy. Sweet apples such as the Golden Delicious are eaten out of hand. Raisins (grapes) are a late summer dessert. available in the fall.

Containers of jewel-like preserves were often exchanged as gifts.Major Foods and Ingredients 71 spoon for a summer entrée. then boil it down the next morning. They pair with poultry and meat. Preserves have many uses in baking. NUTS Dried Isère noix (walnuts. frequently in combination with shrimp and crabs. Pastèque (watermelon) is popular during the summer in the South. and plum are popular flavors to spread on bread for a tartine. JELLIES. Sweet amandes (almonds) are in fact pit fruits related to . Sweet-acid currant jelly is a traditional accompaniment to hot preparations of foie gras. quinces. such as apples. and they are served as dessert (instead of fruits) during the winter months. Jam is ubiquitous on breakfast tables: strawberry. with salads. AND COMPOTES La confiture. or both. and with blue cheeses. Oranges (oranges) are the most common of the thickskinned citrus fruits. say the French. raspberry. the more you spread it around). they are used in salads and soups. Most jam is industrial. but during the summer people macerate fruit in sugar overnight. apricot. prunes. jellies are also made from decoctions of lavender or from wine. in cooking they have a special affinity for fish. The lovely sheen on strawberry tarts and other pastries in bakery windows is usually due to an apricot glaze. A gelée (jelly) is a fine-textured. Pamplemousses (grapefruit) are usually pressed into juice. Citrons verts (limes) are used in mixing drinks. and cédrats (citrons) are candied for use in baking and confectionary. clear preserve from which all berry seeds or chunks of fruit have been strained off. chicken. the word also refers to nuts in general) are used in baking and confectionary and in savory cooking to garnish salads and hot dishes. and raisins. Rowanberry and elderberry jellies and gooseberry jam are served with game to temper the headier flavors of the meat. est comme l’intelligence: moins on en a. strained apricot preserves. Compote is a simple dessert of fruits stewed in syrup or wine. Before modern refrigeration and freezing. making preserves ensured that one could eat fruits in some form during the cold winter months. however. Avocats (avocadoes) are technically fruits. abricoter (“to apricot”) means to glaze a cake or tart with a coating of boiled. and veal. they are sometimes served peeled and sliced as a light first course. figs. plus on l’étale (Jam is like intelligence: the less you have. Citrons (lemons) are used in both savory and sweet preparations. It is prepared from fresh or dried fruits. JAMS.

if more modest. CHOCOLATE. with a crisp texture. Berlingots and bêtises de Cambrai are both bonbons with a glasslike appearance typical for flavored. Salted and left in their shells. As in the United States.72 Food Culture in France peaches. Fresh nutmeats are pale white. The paste is glossed with hard white sugar icing. Despite the prevalence of industrial candies. Pignons (pine nuts) are lightly toasted in a pan. worldwide it is second. and small. working with sugar is an art in itself. sugar is widely used in the food industry as an additive to fruit juices. then carved into the typical almond shape. and a sweet flavor. colored. in cooking they are often paired with trout. When fresh. the tradition of artisanal confectionary is quite strong in France. The petits-fours or very small cakes known as calissons d’Aix are made of sweetened melon paste and egg white. preserves. France leads the European Union in the production of sugar from sugar beets. breakfast cereals. AND SWEETS Sucre (sugar) was long a luxury consumed by the affluent and considered a spice rather than a cooking staple or a food. Today. still-green shells are carved open with a sharp knife. HONEY. although in smaller quantities than in other European countries. decorative boxes of hand-made candies such as chewy nougats (made with egg white) or nut pralines (in a crunchy sugar coating) are often given as gifts. Châtaignes (chestnuts) are ground into flour that is used to make bread and cakes. Candied in sugar syrup. with meats and in confectionary. are nonetheless exquisite. Sugar is essential to chocolatiers or chocolate makers. Contemporary bonbons. then strewn on salads and used as garnishes. . hard sugar candies. they accompany an apéritif. perhaps into naturalistic forms such as roses and leaves. Tiny green pistaches (pistachios) are used like hazelnuts. a milky moistness. they are called marrons glacés and are used in sweet preparations such as chestnut cream. pastries. Most chocolate is eaten in the form of the industrial milk chocolate bars available in every supermarket and grocery store. the pithy. Few confectioners today make the elaborate sugar sculptures that featured on aristocratic tables in the past. SUGAR. Hard sugar candy is shaped in molds or else blown like glass from heavy syrup. Although most nuts are eaten dried. and yogurt. fresh hazelnuts and almonds appear seasonally in markets. Chocolate is widely consumed in France. Whole chestnuts go into stuffing for turkey and combine with cabbbage to make hearty winter braised dishes. biscuits. Noisettes (hazelnuts or filberts) garnish meat concoctions such as pâtés and are added to hard sausages.

Pains au chocolat. Metz. Viennoiseries or fine pastries such as chaussons de pomme or baked apple turnovers. Chocolats come in imaginative shapes. and the Vosges. pine honey.Major Foods and Ingredients 73 In recent years. homemade preparations. During the late Middle Ages. a box of elegant chocolates may be passed around the table as a last morsel to follow coffee. and thyme honey are harvested in the South and have delicate. At breakfast honey is eaten like jam—spread on buttered bread or spooned over plain yogurt for flavor and sweetness. orange flower honey. according to the inspiration of the confectioner. For a special occasion such as a weekend dinner or a birthday celebration. Lavender honey. a basic layer cake with fruits. Honey from meadow flowers and crop fields is the most common. and of higher quality than the overly sweetened and less saturated mixtures. After a festive meal. PASTRIES AND DESSERTS One of the many seductions of France is the large range of imaginative desserts and pâtisseries (pastries). and bees were also important as a source of wax to make the votive candles lit in churches. are a favorite with children. it has become fashionable for cafés to serve a small square of chocolate with their coffees. better tasting. Honey gives pain d’épices (spice cake) from Dijon its characteristic flavor and dark color. Residents of rural areas and also many suburban dwellers keep a hive in the garden and collect their own honey. and it is a traditional ingredient in ginger cakes. Miel (honey) has been a familiar if not widely used sweetener since Celtic and Roman times. a Lyon specialty is the cocoa-dusted hérisson or hedgehog. Artisanal chocolate makers produce bonbons stuffed with fruits or creams. viewed as more natural. the result of promotional efforts on the part of chocolate manufacturers. the pastry professionals. the whole garnished with . These range from simple. to complex confections made only by pâtissiers. brioche. flavored with liquors or spices. home cooks craft a simple chocolate or pound cake. raisin-filled spirals. Apiculture or the cultivation of bees for honey is a common hobby that recalls the rural agricultural life of the recent past. mixed with nuts. which are croissants filled with chocolate. desserts such as oeufs à la neige or île flottante (eggs in snow or floating island: egg whites poached in milk and served on crème anglaise or thin custard. and flaky. fermented honey drinks were made in Lorraine. distinctive flavors. so-called for its spiky appearance. connoisseurs seek out dark chocolate with a significant cocoa content (at least 50 percent). As in the United States. buttery croissants are eaten at breakfast along with a bowl of coffee or hot chocolate.

invented in 1954 in Paris in honor of the Palais Garnier opera house. Small puff pastry balls filled with cream. then similarly garnished with sauces and fruits. and is slightly granular in texture. a frothy egg cream whisked over a double boiler and flavored with sweet wine such as Muscat). fruit purée as sauce. These cakes are finished with a fruit glaze or jelly to give the outside a transparently colorful liquid sheen. and restaurants feature coupes de glace and bombes on the menu for dessert. a tiny quantity of sorbet is served between courses of a meal. herbs.” i. The family of frothy cakes that includes the Roussillon and the Framboisine are made from layers of gelées. are summer flavors. ices made their way to France via Italy. Served in a large. Vanilla and chocolate are favorite flavors. For an elaborate dinner. and a crisp cookie. people buy cones at street stands and ice cream shops. rosemary. or produce. a cake or tart will be bought from a pâtissier.e. During the seventeenth century. but far more elaborate classic confections are widely available in the pastry shops. is not terribly sweet. and raspberry.. such as lavender. In formal settings. During the summer. it is usually meant to be shared by two people. flavors are based on local fruits. Professionally made tarts lined with pastry cream or almond cream and topped with fruits are perennial favorites. To make an Opéra. hazelnut. It contains little cream. and honey. strawberry. French glace (“ice. and the whole is iced with chocolate. In the South. cooling. and refreshing desserts. which is sweet-sour. and nut creams on a light sponge cake. which soaks up the flavors and colors of the spreads. thinly sliced fruit. nuts. a thin biscuit is soaked in coffee syrup. or eggs are appreciated as light. sabayon (zabaglione. mousse au chocolat (chocolate mousse). being closer to an Italian gelato. and pistachio are common. Sorbets and granités or true ices made without any cream. milk. . recognizable from the powdered sugar and almonds that decorate the top. ICE CREAM AND SORBET Ices and ice creams can be traced to ancient China and were eaten at the court of Alexander the Great and by the Emperor Nero during the first century. or a fruit tart.74 Food Culture in France caramel). A bombe is ice cream molded into a round shape. butter cream and chocolate cream are spread on alternate layers. ice cream) differs from American ice cream. A Paris-Brest. mango and passion fruit. to refresh the palate. bowl-shaped glass coupe (goblet). arranged in a circle. A coupe is an oversized concoction garnished with fruits. and garnished with flavored whipped cream or custard sauce make a SaintHonoré. layers puff pastry with almond and hazelnut cream.

The use of eau de fleur d’oranger (orange flower water) and eau de rose (rose water) in pastry-making in the South reflects a Middle Eastern influence that came via Spain with the Moors. France is the third largest purchaser of coffee beans in the world. less frequently hot water. Orange flower is the distinctive flavor in the sweet version of the yeasted pastries called fougaces. its roasted. The result is a strong. ground roots are sold in powders or granules that resemble instant coffee and may be dissolved in hot milk. the perfume industry centered in Grasse also supplied cooks. Children may also be given bowls of chicorée (chicory). violette (violet) flavors candy and black tea. in demitasse cups. similar to Italian espresso. people drink small cups of black coffee. . as well. Chocolat or hot chocolate is a popular beverage among children. after the United States and Germany. TISANES. most blossoms used in perfumes and flavorings are imported from India and Asia. TEA. light afternoon refreshment. and the coffee is brewed with relatively little water. coffee refreshes the palette. Coffee drunk at mid-morning or in the late afternoon is a pick-me-up. Until the midtwentieth century. tea has gained popularity as a breakfast drink. In the past. AND HOT CHOCOLATE Nearly everybody drinks café (coffee). It is drunk at breakfast from the same kind of bowls that adults use for café au lait. and whole violet flowers candied in sugar garnish cakes and pastries. Vanille (vanilla) is a staple of bakers. brewed black and green teas were associated with elegant. spice. hot milk with strong coffee. connoisseurs appreciate the delicate variety of flavors. Café au lait. sipped after the varied flavors of a meal. Green sweet-sour angelica stems. which used to be drunk as an inexpensive.Major Foods and Ingredients 75 HERBS AND FLOWERS USED AS SWEET FLAVORINGS Some herb. This is due in part to health concerns. today. Chicory is a green related to endive. In recent years. COFFEE. Throughout the day and after lunch and dinner. and flower flavors are primarily associated with sweet dishes. Mint is used primarily for tisane and as a flavor for syrups drunk over ice. are candied by repeated dipping into sugar syrup and then carved into attractive shapes. A cup of tea contains far less caffeine than a cup of coffee. This is simply called un café (a coffee) or a petit noir. is drunk at breakfast. rich-tasting beverage. Chicory is naturally nutty and sweet in flavor and lacks the bitterness and caffeine of coffee. and tea may offer other health benefits. taken in the past as medicine. domestically produced substitute for coffee. Dark roasted Robusta or Arabica beans are used.

giving the false impression (shared by many of the French) that tap water is never drunk. and Vatel are popular. Natural or added carbonation is responsible for the bubbles in sparkling mineral waters. and the various decoctions are appreciated for their medicinal properties. but as a refreshing beverage for the late afternoon. or menthe (mint) steeped in hot water. The most distinctive is Orangina. Volvic. Some small towns. Still waters from springs at Evian. The flavors of spring waters vary according to their mineral content (or the lack thereof) indicated on the bottle label. so that glasses may conveniently be refilled. despite its name. and they are often ordered in cafés.76 Food Culture in France A tisane or infusion is a made from a dried flower or herb such as verveine (verbena). More typical than soda are sirops (syrups). not cold or iced. Coke. During meals. Beloved by children and popular with people of all ages during the summer. Grenadine (pomegranate) and cassis (black currant) are well-loved flavors. Fanta. still have public fountains that antedate the installation in homes of filtered running water. Waters with high mineral contents are appreciated for their healthful properties. Liter-sized bottles of water are available at grocery stores and corner stores. such as Badoit and Perrier. and sodium are other common mineral elements in spring waters. A small quantity of thick. Orgeat is barley syrup. une menthe à l’eau— green mint syrup and water—is cooling in hot weather. Fluorine. They are given to the sick. . a pitcher or carafe of tap water or a bottle of spring water is placed on the table. potassium.11 General preference runs to drinking water that is cool or room temperature. although sometimes it is based on almonds. Sodas and syrups are not drunk with meals. guimauve (mallow). sweet. orange-shaped bottle. tap water is the most commonly drunk liquid in France10 and may safely be consumed throughout the country. WATER Spring waters are heavily marketed. SODA AND SYRUPS Soda is everywhere available. particularly in the South. along with a few French sodas. easily spotted in its squat. although it is not consumed on the same scale as in the United States. In fact. Infusions are taken before bed or as an after-dinner hot drink instead of coffee. and other imported beverages are easy to find. Contrex. heavily concentrated syrup with a distinctive fruit or herbal flavor is mixed with water to make a refreshing drink. such as calcium for bone health.

there it rivals wine in importance. also flavored with anise and fennel. making true bière (beer). The problem was that it contained wormwood (Artemesia absinthium). a handful of industrial breweries in Alsace. Pastis.5 percent alcohol by volume). In cooking. beer is an ingredient in the beef stew carbonade and in some fish stews. Liqueurs have been manufactured in France since the distilling process was brought back from the Middle East during the Crusades. in the countryside of the Northwest. By far the most popular liqueur is anise-flavored pastis. For centuries. the bubbly fermented apple juice that is mildly alcoholic (4. produce most of the French beers.and after-dinner drinks) and have many uses in cooking. and the Maine. not to mention for its magical transformative powers. when new varieties of apples and cultivation techniques were brought from Spain. The hops give the characteristic bitter flavor and act as a natural preservative. La fée verte (the green fairy) was so called for the milky green color it assumes when mixed with water. an ancient tonic that is also potentially toxic. They flavor sauces. Ale is malt. Cider is consumed on a much smaller scale than wine or beer. Cidre (cider) in France is what Americans call hard cider. when they were marketed as a substitute for absinthe (absinthe).Major Foods and Ingredients 77 BEER AND CIDER Cervoise (ale) antedates wine in France and can be traced back to the Gauls. Excessive consumption and bad quality mixtures produced unfortunate effects. Most is drunk near where it is made. a shot of grenadine syrup is added. Today. germinated barley that has been fermented with yeast and water. Pernod and other anise liqueurs became popular in the nineteenth century. or toasted. Since the sixteenth century. A panaché is a summer drink made of beer mixed with lemonade. apples and cider have been typical of Normandy. Brittany. BRANDIES AND LIQUEURS Eaux-de-vie (fortified alcohols or distilled liqueurs) are drunk as apéritifs and digestifs (before. Most distilled liqueurs were originally concocted as medicines. By the end of the eighth century. beer was an important source of food calories for northern Europeans. people had begun to add medicinal hop blossoms to ale. For a bubbly red Monaco. such as Kronenbourg and Météor. and the government banned the sale of absinthe . stewed dishes. Absinthe is quite bitter and has to be sweetened with a cube of sugar. and desserts and are f lambéed for a dramatic presentation. and beer consumption is heaviest in this region and along the Belgian border.

l’heure du pastis—time for a sociable pastis—is practically any hour of the day: before lunch. Grimod de la Reynière. and oats. originally from French-speaking Switzerland. or fruit. Le Manuel des Amphitryons (Paris: Cappelle et Renand. Pastis-and-water is the basis for a handful of simple. It is drunk mixed with chilled water. Unlike its lethal ancestor.” “Le vin du solitaire. 1808). classic Cognac is the most famous grape brandy. . Calvados or apple brandy is beloved in the apple-growing regions of Normandy. by commercial distillers. however. for instance. people still concoct their own brandies by soaking fruits such as pears or plums in a neutrally flavored alcohol.78 Food Culture in France in 1915. The theory goes that the small glass of apple brandy.” Les Fleurs du mal (1857). known in this circumstance as a trou normand. 2. opens up a “hole” (trou) so that you can eat more.” The addition of barley syrup gives a Mauresque or Morisco. narrow. Conveniently. pastis turns a light milky yellow when mixed with water. in the late afternoon. Bright yellow or green Chartreuse was developed by a Carthusian sect. Adding grenadine makes a pink-red tomate or “tomato.” “Le vin de l’assassin. Gin is based on rye. where gardens with fruit trees are common. in Charles Baudelaire. 76–81. pastis is regarded as having a beneficial effect on health. barley. it is a mark of respect and a gesture of friendship to offer a guest a glass of house-made brandy. Most of the herbal liqueurs have monastic origins.” “Le vin des chiffoniers. before dinner. root. but owes its flavor to a strong infusion of juniper berries. Vermouth is based on grapes. Oeuvres complètes (Paris: Robert Laffont. NOTES 1. Suze is drunk over ice and mixed with sparkling water from a tall. the green drink that results is a perroquet (parrot). not the American mixed drink.” and “Le vin des amants. Orange-flavored Cointreau and Grand-Marnier were invented in the mid–nineteenth century. In the countryside. to promote digestion and help eaters make their way through a particularly rich repast. 14. Most liquors draw their distinctive flavor from an herb. comes from gentian roots that have soaked in eau-de-vie. 1980). Mixed with mint syrup. In the Midi. Among after-dinner drinks. as the monks concocted them for use as medicines. but flavored with herbs and spices. un Martini in France is a before-dinner glass of herbflavored vermouth. straight-sided glass. popular cocktails. “L’Âme du vin. notably by soothing the stomach and intestines. The bitter flavor of Suze. A shot of Calvados is sometimes drunk between courses during a meal. A clear light brown by itself. pastis and other anise mixtures were available.

1990). 18. 4.Major Foods and Ingredients 79 3. Jean-Louis Flandrin. 131. 6. 1998). C. 179. Gilbert Garrier. Didier Nourrisson.’” Le Monde (May 24. 281. Silvano Serventi. “L’huile d’olive. Pasta. 47. L’agriculture et la maison rustique. 5. Technologie culinaire. 10. . Le Buveur du XIXe siècle (Paris: Albin Michel. 9. “T’ang. 1995. “Et le beurre conquit la France. Histoire sociale et culturelle du vin (Paris: Larousse-Bordas. Edward H. French translation by Jean Liébault (Paris: Chez Jaques Du-Puys. Charles Estienne. 2006). preface by Pierre Troisgros (Paris: BPI. 1977). 16.” in Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives. xiv. trans. 111. 7. Michel Maincent. editor K.” L’Histoire 85 (1986): 109. 1570). Chang (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2002). un ‘or jaune. 8. 2002). Silvano Serventi and Françoise Sabban. Antony Shugaar (New York: Columbia University Press. 11. 1999). Le Livre du foie gras (Paris: Flammarion. Schafer.


At the end of the Second World War. The roles of professional cooks are diverse. economical plats mijotés (slow-cooked dishes). the French acquire nearly all provisions in stores.3 Cooking Elements that shape cooking practices include available ingredients.308 to 3. highly rationalized preparations. In fast-food eateries. SUPERMARKETS As in other urban consumer societies.500 square meters (about 1. home cooks have moved into the small shop and the supermarket.270 square yards) of selling space. kitchen technologies. This is a recent innovation. executive chefs are astute managers as well as gastronomic high priests and food designers. In elite restaurants. as well as time pressure and busy schedules have contributed to the rise of fast-cooked foods as rivals to old-style. not to mention the oversized hypermarché. Price-fixing was common. they had fought tooth and nail to curb . defined as having 1. From the kitchen garden. and most food shopping is done at commercial chain supermarchés (supermarkets). and of course the cook. before the war. The transition from a largely agricultural way of life to a fully modern urban and suburban one was completed in the last century.000 to 2. most food shops were specialized and expensive. cooking has become an assembly process where employees carry out simplified. as conservative shopkeepers sought to shield themselves from competition. Efficient stoves and the taste for lighter foods.

then reselling them at a full 25 percent below the shop prices.270 square yards). and discounters (discount stores). and milk or juice in sealed tretrapacks or bricks that can be stored at room temperature until they are opened. bread. small shops close. Nonetheless. ever on the lookout for bargains and a favorable rapport qualité-prix (quality-price ratio).2 As in the United States. In 1949. and wine. Fresh potatoes that are peeled. fresh from a decade of schooling in Jesuit seminaries. As Leclerc grew his first store and then opened other outlets. Sealed containers of fresh fruit salad kept under refrigeration are meant to be sold and eaten within a few days. canned goods. a store that stocked a wide variety of competitively priced comestibles was revolutionary if not actually heretical. In addition to packages of flash-frozen vegetables or fruits and containers of ice creams . and ready to eat. defined as having selling space greater than 2. legal limits have been imposed. the small shopkeepers. Leclerc had to write to the federal government to defend himself. A recent trend for commercial supermarkets and the food industry is to marry the appeal of fresh items with the convenience of food that is prepared. His outraged colleagues.500 square meters (about 3. self-service supermarkets had become prevalent and Leclerc’s practices the norm. By the 1960s. supermarchés stock perishables as well as items designed for long storage such as dried pasta. A chain of supermarkets that is unique to France sells only surgelés (frozen foods). the young Édouard Leclerc began buying large quantities of groceries directly from factories and producers. packaged. and the Ministère des Finances (Ministry of Finance) took the opportunity to affirm the illegality of price-fixing. cooked. This practice made a hit among his neighbors in Landerneau (Brittany) as they shopped for dinner. whose discounts hardly differed from small shop prices. some associate the large chains. he had to do battle with urban department stores such as Monoprix and Prisunic. the French more than any other European population frequent not just supermarchés but also hypermarchés or grande surfaces (superstores). however. It was in these circumstances that the first of the modern domestic commercial chains got its start. In most towns where an Auchan or other big store opens. such as the ban on building an hypermarché within city limits in Paris. The fancier stores have specialty counters such as for fresh fish. In the interest of maintaining commercial diversity and protecting the small shops. like fast-food restaurants. turned belligerent. with an impersonal.1 In this atmosphere. sterile or Americanized way of life. Today.82 Food Culture in France the growth of cooperative magasins à succursales (chain stores). then sealed in plastic can be added directly to a dinner dish as it heats up.

The specialty shops recall that through the eighteenth century. and pâtés at the boucher-charcutier Lavigne in Montceau-les-Mines. As relatively few households had ovens until the midtwentieth century. In city neighborhoods. and other pork products). terrines. Courtesy of Janine Depoil. Guild rules limited what a merchant could sell. the shops are usually located in the town center. but also gave the merchant an effective monopoly in that particular line of business. bread being practically a synonym for life itself. and pâtisserie (pastry shop) recall older shopping traditions. royal statutes and guilds or corporations structured the manufacturing and retail sectors of the economy. especially hams. In villages and small towns. rows of different kinds of food shops cluster together. these stores sell items such as appetizers that can be quickly prepared by heating in the oven and tart shells to be filled with fruits for dessert or with a savory filling to make a hot lunch. The old rules are Sausages. hams. . the boulangerie has long been an institution even in villages. charcuterie (shop for cured meats.Cooking 83 and sorbets. sausages. SPECIALTY SHOPS Small specialty stores such as the fromagerie (cheese shop). boulangerie (bread shop).

sell prepared dishes that are ready to eat. who. By earlier norms. during the day. a strategy opposite that of the generalist supermarket. this schedule became inconvenient and impractical. or supervise the shopping and cooking. until 11 P. it is understood. or about 157 to 523 square yards) and corner stores may remain open later still. remaining open until 7 or 8 P. but to the person who runs it. As middle. STORE AND SHOP HOURS Until as recently as the 1980s. Now most supermarkets and small shops keep evening hours. At this end of the economic spectrum. and bag produce. replaced by supermarkets that sell products more cheaply. especially outside of the densely populated cities and in small towns. or midnight. Interaction between the customer and the shopkeeper is required for the purchase to be transacted. Similarly. but boutiques cultivate the aura as well as the practice of specialization. Food items are displayed behind glass or on shelves behind a counter. One may make a trip chez mon poissonnier (“to my fish seller’s”). Here specialty shops struggle to survive or have disappeared entirely. one refers to the good vegetables chez mon marchand de légumes (“at my grocer’s”). recommend cheeses to be eaten the same day or two days later. Shopkeepers slice ham to order. may be relied on for his expert knowledge in the matter of fish.M. Supérettes (convenience stores with selling space measuring 120 to 400 square meters. or praise a bottle discovered through mon caviste (“my wine seller”). as well as upscale supermarkets. connoisseurs with the means for leisure spending further extend their shopping circuits to venues formerly frequented largely by food professionals. Private attendance at annual or seasonal food and wine expositions and trade shows increases yearly. but . Pharmacies alternate night shifts against medical emergencies.and upper-class women entered the workforce and the professions in larger numbers. Those who regularly frequent such stores often refer not to the shop itself. It is considered rude to walk in to a small specialty food store simply to look around. in the bourgeois classes the woman of the house remained at home and could shop and cook. In affluent areas.3 The picture is quite different for less affluent areas.84 Food Culture in France no longer in place. Most small shops are not self-service. shop hours followed those of the business day. specialty shops run by traiteurs or caterers. although fruits and vegetables are displayed in open bins.M. For the shopper filling a basket with provisions. the small shops now offer access to products perceived as high quality and of reliable provenance.

the novelist Émile Zola “scientifically” described the sprawling Parisian market located for centuries at Les Halles. swallowing up the lives of the individuals whose work there keeps the rest of the capital alive.4 Yet the notion that markets offer the best local items directly from a farmer or producer is not always wrong. The stroll through the outdoor market is an end in itself. or weekend outdoor marchés (markets) in cities and towns can be traced through medieval trade and monastic fairs and to the marketplaces established in Gaul by the Romans. 1873). weekly. the market is the rapacious gullet and grumbling gut of the city. the produce. Today. and cheeses for sale at outdoor markets are identical to those in the supermarkets. south of Paris. In Le Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris. rivalries among merchants who compete for customers. Ironically. Cheeses have been fully aged under proper conditions of temperature and humidity.Cooking 85 other stores do not stay open round the clock. MARKETS The daily. the market relocated to Rungis. outdoor marketing offers possibilities for socializing and a picturesque experience. Morocco. in some instances. La cuisine du marché (market cooking) implies taking inspiration from seasonal ingredients. the fresh perfume from the flower stands. The heart and soul of food shopping dwell in the smaller retail markets. An ultra-modern supply chain provisions the market. French cooking in general and la cuisine du marché in particular seek to bring out or improve the inherent features of good ingredients. Benin. Truckloads of domestic produce arrive every morning. and imports are flown in daily from Israel. Food shopping is part of the business of the day. In the 1960s. it is these elements of market culture that draw crowds. to expand while easing urban traffic congestion. China. At a good market. During the late nineteenth century. meats. Turkey. Rungis is a wholesale market open to professionals and retailers such as restaurant chefs and grocers. the rank stench that pervaded the fish and the meat sections by the day’s end in summer—the first modern refrigeration technology was still in its infancy and it was not yet widely available. and the market is a place to see and be seen. Beyond access to fresh foods. and other locations. As much as the opportunity to buy edibles and ingredients. Meats have been hung to develop their flavor and tenderness. driving cattle before them or carrying heavy baskets of provisions to sell. . Zola documents in fascinating detail the nocturnal march that country dwellers made to arrive in the city by early morning. a special rich odor hangs in the air. Fruits are at the peak of ripeness.

into the home kitchen as cooks and nurturers for their families and households. cover the pot. Grate a dash of nutmeg over each serving. Allow the apples to cool in their syrup. until the apples are cooked but still intact. was long the province of women. If desired. and contemporary notions of gender equality have brought men. In a saucepan. and gently simmer for about 5 minutes. When people reminisce. dipping each section briefly into the lemon mixture to prevent discoloring. Stewed Apples (Compote de pommes) • 6 large apples. as well. . and quarter the apples. core. then reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 10 minutes. hard apple cider. vanilla bean (if using). cinnamon sticks. familiar. If no vanilla bean was used. they recall “my mother’s” version of a dish as the very best. the tasks—or pleasures—of cooking and food shopping are likely to be shared. You may need to baste and turn the apples once or twice to make sure they are coated with syrup. or white wine • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar • pinch salt • 1 2-inch piece of a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 2 2-inch cinnamon sticks • 2 whole cloves • nutmeg Mix the lemon juice and 1/2 cup water in a bowl. preferably a firm cooking variety such as Granny Smith • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice • 1/2 cup water • 2 cups water. Bring the syrup to the boil. like housework and childcare. and comforting. Peel. Particularly in younger couples. sugar. combine 2 cups water (or cider or wine). serve the apples with cream or a scoop of ice cream. Add the apples. The education of women including higher education. such as the simple home dessert compote de pommes.86 Food Culture in France COOKING AT HOME Cooking at home. salt. however. Take the pot off the heat. and cloves. The phrase la cuisine grand-mère (grandmother’s cooking) describes dishes that are thought to be old-fashioned and soul-satisfying. apple cider. nostalgia centered around food and cuisine de ménage or cuisine familiale (home cooking) tends to have an association with women. add vanilla extract. the entry of women into the professions.

For a holiday or birthday celebration. tradition. and technical competence are balanced by any number of outside influences. despite the prevalence of eating out. and carve roasts. and pressure cooking are the preferred methods. coming from the kitchen. The repetitions imposed by time. In addition to preparing meals. used primarily as references for proportions or methods. affluence. participation in the family meal still often relies on the performance of roles that remain defined by gender. Ready-made. and the mustard that is ubiquitous in vinaigrette dressing for salads and as a condiment for meats. and produce that can be eaten raw in salads. The continuity and sense of tradition that marked these practices corresponded to repetition. Home cooking today. and semi-prepared elements further facilitate the task of cooking and serving meals at home. charcuterie. A family’s entire kitchen library consisted of one or two basic printed cookbooks. Today. however. from televised cooking shows to the wide variety of domestic and imported foods in stores. refill water and wine glasses. Cooking technology. personal taste. such as . although it is a part of nearly every meal. recipes were transmitted within families primarily as cooking techniques. Men uncork wine bottles. steaming (for vegetables). is more varied and experimental. cheese. prepared. Basic kitchen equipment and a dining table with chairs are among the very first items that a young person or couple setting up house will buy. female family members are likely to stack up used plates and carry them away from the table. Breakfast pastries such as brioche and croissant are purchased from the boulanger or pâtissier. Bread is almost never made at home. cooking remains a central feature of home life. FAST COOKING AND SHORTCUTS In home kitchens. and carry in food from the kitchen. meats in fillets and chops. budget. slow-simmered soups or stews of past centuries have largely been replaced by quick dishes. the economical. and time pressures factor into this trend. such as fish in fillets. Until quite recently. yogurt. bring in fresh plates for the next course.Cooking 87 Regardless of professional accomplishments that women realize outside the home. baking for items that do not require long exposure to heat. a cake may be bought from a pâtissier. Other staples of the kitchen and table purchased ready-made include jams. Searing or sautéing. Home cooks take advantage of fresh preparations from specialty shops. Supermarkets sell items suited to the fast cooking methods. A written recipe often consisted of only a few words jotted on a scrap of paper or in a family book as an aide-mémoire (prod to the memory).

then taste and season with salt and pepper. At home. rationalized kitchen that is typical became so only during the last half-century. Minimal fuss yields a fresh. Bake 25 minutes. Coat the fish thoroughly with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. The stove has evolved in a particularly dramatic fashion. one simply spoons the flavored meat into hollowed-out tomatoes or zucchini. then sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper. Similarly. seed. TOOLS IN THE HOME KITCHEN The efficient. until the onion and tomato soften and the sauce thickens. sprinkle the whole fish or each serving with chopped parsley. garlic. Baked Cod with Tomatoes (Cabillaud à la portugaise) • 2 pounds fresh cod fillets • salt • pepper • 1/3 cup olive oil • 1/3 cup chopped onion • 4 medium tomatoes • 3 cloves garlic. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for 20 seconds to facilitate peeling. then gives the stuffed vegetables a quick turn on the stove in an inch of liquid or pops them into the oven. Before serving. As in any western kitchen. an easy plat (main course) for a summer lunch or dinner. Stir the onion. crushed • 1/2 cup dry white wine • 1/2 teaspoon sugar • 6 sprigs parsley. one cooked over a brazier or else in pots suspended above an open fire that vented through . and dice them.88 Food Culture in France a butcher’s mixture of fresh. Pour the tomato sauce over the fish. Pour in the wine. the central features are running water. chopped Preheat the oven to 350° F. In rustic dwellings having no separate room for cooking. loose raw sausage meat or ground pork with spices or herbs. tomato. and lay out flat in a baking dish. home-cooked main dish. and a modern stove. which became standard in France in the 1950s. and remaining olive oil together in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. then peel. simple preparation but lively flavor describe this typical recipe for baked fish with a tomato sauce. add the sugar.

often separate from the stovetop. metal stoves came to include multiple ovens with individual access doors. aesthetics.or tile-covered fourneaux (“furnaces”) slow simmering and stewing in pots on the stovetop. Ustensiles or petits outils (utensils). The multipurpose surfaces are appreciated in city apartments. This modification facilitated baking and the simultaneous preparation of multiple dishes. suburban dwellers with spacious houses may have a larger refrigerator with a substantial freezer section and keep a separate deep freezer in a basement or garage. although wealthy families purchased Frigidaires. Dishwashers and range vents above the stove are prevalent. have been popular since the 1970s. as well as in cooking as such. beaters. The four (oven). Today. and. Congélateurs (freezers) are less common. Recent innovations such as smooth ceramic stovetops and plaques à induction (magnetic induction cooktops) that do not retain heat when no cooking is in process double as countertops. A réfrigérateur or frigo (refrigerator) has been standard since the late 1960s. fires in chimneys in the great houses conveniently supported spit roasting. and released fewer particulate pollutants. and la vaisselle (dishes) complete the equipment in the home kitchen. Situating the fire on a hearth against an exterior wall and venting through a chimney imposed a sense of containment. even a simple or modest kitchen has connections for the full range of appareils électroménagers (appliances) now considered basic and essential. The 1850s saw the invention of the gas stove. and brick. made by General Motors. food processors. which became widely available in the 1930s. recently. . both gas and variations on the electrical stove—efficient for slow cooking—are prevalent in home kitchens. cast iron and other metal stoves became available. as early as the late 1920s. Today. Accomplished amateur cooks prize restaurant-grade appliances such as oversize gas stoves that throw powerful flames. where space comes at a premium. is usually electric. an offshoot of radar technology developed in the United States during the Second World War.Cooking 89 the roof. la batterie de cuisine (pots and pans). In addition to the top range. Beyond the major appliances. The gas stove avoided the burden of stocking wood or charcoal. and energy conservation. hand-held plunge mixeurs (blenders) that convert vegetables into soup. self-contained electrical steamers for vegetables. allowed easy control over the cooking flame. By the end of the eighteenth century. Electric stoves with burner disks or coils that come to temperature became common in the 1960s. Their engineering and design reflect contemporary interest in safety. Fours à micro-ondes (microwaves). By the seventeenth century. common gadgets in home kitchens include coffee makers.

and trivets. dessert plates. Since the importation of porcelain from China and the efforts of Louis XIV to promote luxury industries. or cheese that must be scored. poaching. the various regions are known for their local styles. silicone supplement the wooden spoons. mix. and it is a feature of many kitchens. Newer utensils made of hard plastic and. shallow soup plates with a wide diameter and deep flat rim. and searing. A fouet (whisk). and other preparations destined for the oven. when the Cocotte-Minute was marketed for fast cooking and energy efficiency. With its extraordinary flexibility. However. France has been known for elegant china. and râpe (grater) complete the basic kitchen tool kit.90 Food Culture in France Despite the capacities of electrical food processors. Sturdy enameled cast iron pots for simmering soups and stews over a steady heat and for baking in the oven are appreciated. a variety of couteaux (knives). crushing together garlic cloves and salt. cake molds. passoire (colander). gives the desired consistency and subtly blends the strong perfumes. and impermeability to stains and odors. Early experiments with pressure cooking date to the seventeenth century. such as decorative Quimper ware from Brittany. spatule (spatula). including commissioning the Sèvres manufacture. In the South. Sets of plates usually include the typical hemispherical breakfast bowls for café au lait in addition to flat dinner plates. In sets of . Many people use the mandoline. Poêles and sauteuses (pots and pans) are used for boiling. Equally typical rustic glazed terra cotta is found in the South. The cocotte is still appreciated for these qualities. some cooks insist that the only way to make good pistou (pesto for stirring into vegetable soup) is by hand using a mortier et pilon (mortar and pestle). silicone is becoming ubiquitous in the kitchen for flexible kneading and baking surfaces. These implements are designed to last for decades. or grated. durability. tartes. basil leaves and olive oil. The whirling blades of a food processor or blender produce an unattractive mixture that is too uniform in texture. By contrast. raclette (scraper). although it is often weekend cooks and connoisseurs who take the time to use them. braising. the marmite à pression or autocuiseur (pressure cooker) became popular only after the Second World War. a firmly anchored. in addition to utensils. heat resistance. over which one slides vegetables. angled surface holding multiple blades. and surfaces for chopping. For centuries wooden and metal spoons have served to stir. and paring are essentials. and beat ingredients in mixing bowls or in pots or pans. sautéing. toss. a couteau économe (peeler). sliced. julienned. fruits. cutting. smaller plates for amuse-bouches (appetizers). and after-dinner coffee cups. Home cooks use porcelain and stoneware dishes to bake gratins. frying. recently.

or three-year technical course. PROFESSIONAL COOKS Professional or career chefs. for instance in foodservice. and one had to work one’s way up from the very bottom. In the 1840s. chefs train both in cooking schools and through modern apprenticeships. Few chefs achieved independence or autonomy with the rise of the restaurant in the eighteenth century. thus professionalizing the work of cooking. Nonetheless. whether chefs de cuisine (executive chefs) or cuisiniers (line cooks). nineteenth-century chefs made significant efforts to improve their working lives. They replace the baccalauréat (high school diploma) earned at the end of (in American terms) thirteenth grade. The grand cooking that evolved in aristocratic houses and that underpins elite cooking in today’s fine restaurants was carried out by individuals regarded as little more than servants. and cooking. Paid cooks have long toiled in the worst of conditions. The first cooking school was established in 1881. The cooking schools initially struggled. and restaurateurs opposed them. smoky kitchens. By the century’s end. Today. preparing sauces. The lowliest apprentice scoured pots and washed dishes before being promoted to chopping vegetables. Opinion is divided as to whether a lengthy apprenticeship and a series of stages (shorter periods of training) under reputable chefs in good restaurants . Despite many obstacles. that follows the baccalauréat. winning little recognition and minimal remuneration for long hours in dangerously hot. the culinary profession began to come into its own. Boys and young men learned the cooking trade through apprenticeship. have with few exceptions been men. as the tines of the fork face down on a set table. forks are designed to be attractive from the back. the new institutions were issuing diplomas for students finishing their three-year programs. cooks united to form mutual aid societies. it was cheaper to exploit the old system of apprenticeship than to hire relatively demanding cooking school graduates. For restaurant owners. The BEP or Brevet d’études professionelles and the CAP or Certificat d’aptitude professionelle for cooking are the vocational diplomas for two-year programs taken at the end of high school. Cooking exhibitions and competitions that showed off cooks’ talents multiplied. Restaurants and job opportunities multiplied during the nineteenth century. Trade and professional journals emerged that were written by and for the chefs. A BTS or Brevet de technicien supérieur is a more advanced two.Cooking 91 silverware or stainless steel flatware. but most cooks worked under a maître d’hôtel who managed the establishment or else they reported to the propriétaire or restaurateur (owner) himself.

some chefs have redefined their roles within commercial restaurants and a few achieved spectacular public success. By contrast. which privileges the liberal professions and professional courses. and the use of relatively modern kitchens. relative to typical commercial restaurant work. Inherent difficulties in the profession have not changed much over the centuries. local. and hospital cafeterias.92 Food Culture in France or a diploma from a respected hotel or culinary school offers the better entrée to a career.5 Cooking and hotel schools. STAR CHEFS In the last few decades. many bistros and restaurants serving traditional. with few days off each year. in military mess halls. Being a cook requires long hours of manual labor. In 1951.6 A talented baker or other food producer who wins one of the widely recognized competitions is named Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Worker in France) in his category. a more predictable workload. It is significant that at present. Because cooking school curricula are practical. or regional foods are operated by immigrant families. The media favor a glamorous vision of the elite culinary world. professionals or salariés such as teachers and office workers earn a yearly salary and benefits. such situations bring higher salaries. In addition to cooking. who assume the rigors of restaurant work as a way to establish themselves within the country. the majority find employment in school. prison.7 and most paid cooks do not work in commercial restaurants at all. Rather. such as pâtissier or boulanger. Winners proudly post it in their shop windows. graduates and most chefs are qualified as service workers and earn an hourly wage or contract fees.8 There is a perception that the opportunity for creative cooking is limited in these contexts. a handful of enterprising chefs took the step of buying their own restaurants gastronomiques (high-end restaurants). business. After the Second World War. they now managed and became principal financial stakeholders. along with their students and graduates. One expert calculates a deficit of cooks in the tens of thousands. a group of owner-manager chefs formed the Association des Maîtres . the term ouvrier reminds the winner that he is a laborer as well as an artisan. more reasonable hours. Most restaurant cooks do not own the establishments in which they work. To work as a chef is punishing. have a relatively low status within the Éducation nationale (national education system). however. Yet despite the respect for craft and appreciation for quality. At the same time. The award is quite prestigious. and it is difficult to fill jobs for cooks in casual restaurants and other everyday commercial contexts. where the use of semi-prepared products often moves the food toward an industrial model. and in retirement homes.

for the finest of the fine restaurants are so expensive to run that they are rarely profitable.Cooking 93 Chef Michel Troisgros (second from left) of the three-star restaurant Troisgros in Roanne at work with his staff. contracts with . Today. such as packaged meals for airlines or for retail in commercial supermarket chains. cuisiniers de France. Michel Troisgros. Acting as a consultant and advisor. In return. Since the 1970s. into homes across the country. the chef may also lend the cachet of his name for marketing. Michelin-starred chefs such as Joël Robuchon. For chefs. the chef assists a company to improve quality in mass-produced items. independent chef as star performer. Michel Guérard. the roles played by a select group of elite chefs extend far beyond activity in a single restaurant kitchen to affect a much wider market. and Paul Bocuse have cultivated ties with the industrie agroalimentaire (agricultural-alimentary industry). To this cuisine sous contrat (cooking on contract). the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Institute for Agronomic Research). the first televised cooking show brought elegant cuisine and an accomplished. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard publicunpact. Companies in the agro-alimentary industry and chefs themselves further cultivate links to private and government-supported research laboratories such as INRA. the company underwrites the chef’s restaurant. Alain Senderens. In 1953. The Association aimed to promote high-quality restaurants and the autonomous chef de cuisine.

There is also the small group of remarkable chef-proprietors known since the end of the eighteenth century as mères (mothers). Until as recently as the mid-twentieth century. The mères came to prominence starting at the end of the nineteenth century and. became quite well known. early in the twentieth. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. however. helped by restaurant reviewers and food writers. many middle class and smaller bourgeois households employed a cuisinière (female cook) who worked under the direct supervision of the mistress of the house. in part because of their influence on successful male chefs. In either case. and government. their cooking relied essentially on local Chef Monique Salera cooking in her restaurant La Dame d’Aquitaine in Dijon. the purview of the star chef extends beyond the restaurant kitchen and dining room to overlapping spheres of industry. A few of the mères. In contrast with the elaborate preparations and expensive exotic ingredients used in elite restaurants. . The mères are associated especially with the Lyon area.94 Food Culture in France agro-alimentary companies may be coercive or beneficial. finance. The history of the cuisinières has yet to be elaborated beyond anecdote. Some of their restaurants began as tiny establishments that served home-style dishes to feed the canuts (silk-workers) who populated the city. WOMEN CHEFS There have been a few notable exceptions to the gender divide in professional cooking.

Several won and many kept for years one or more Michelin stars. fried. Hostility to the entry of women into the world of professional cooks has long emanated from the ranks of male cooks who feared competition.9 In this era a mandate recommended cooking instruction in the public schools. The group did support teaching women from the popular classes the art of home cooking as part of a more general enseignement ménager (course in domestic economy). cooking school students and apprentices working in restaurants note the macho culture and inhospitable climate prevalent in many professional kitchens. or grand cuisine. In the twentieth century. in the press. then served with fresh chervil sauce). pike quenelles (poached fine-textured fish dumplings) with crayfish sauce. eel stew. Today. a few talented female chefs in prominent restaurants challenge the strong masculine association to good restaurant food. Gastronomy—the knowledgeable appreciation of food—has tended to view women. pepper. tablier de sapeur (tripe that is marinated. styles of restaurant cooking . but this also aimed to train women for their roles as mothers and nurturers within the family. and early promoter of nouvelle cuisine Paul Bocuse is said to have scoffed at the capacity of female cooks for refined. chicken poached with morels or truffles. garlic. not to mention grande cuisine or haute cuisine. is to this day open only to men. These chefs were as often as not simply called La Mère … (Mother So-and-So) by their clients and. along with salt. savory onion tarts. and red wine vinegar). founded in 1912 as a private automobile club whose members sought out restaurants for touring destinations. bon-vivant.Cooking 95 ingredients and relatively simple methods.10 Today. Their success flies in the face of traditions of food writing. and professional cooking culture that have been actively hostile to seeing women work in professional kitchens. rather than by their first and last names. eventually.11 PROFESSIONAL COOKING Venues for professional cooking vary from local bistros and cafés to the grand restaurants gastronomiques. Dishes associated with their restaurants include roasted chicken. the most widely recognized indicator of quality for a restaurant. along with food items. coated with breadcrumbs. horseradish. rather than as capable connoisseurs. restaurant reviewing. A congress of (male) cooks from throughout France and Algeria that met in Paris in 1893 declared its opposition to the entry of women as apprentices in the great restaurant and hotel kitchens. omelets. the great chef. as consumables. innovative. and cervelle de canuts (“silk-weavers brains”—fresh cheese seasoned with chives. The exclusive Club des Cent (Hundred Club).

Cold and hot dishes must alternate. He defines its basic elements and rules for combining them. Escoffier’s volume is a grammar of cuisine classique (classical cooking). . Until as late as the 1970s. or something in between. and coffee. Dishes often featured touches such as layers of stuffings and decorative pastry shells. The style of cooking that underpins today’s school curricula and that takes place in fine-dining restaurants emerged from the aristocratic traditions of the great houses and from court cuisine as well as from their continuations by private cooks in bourgeois houses of the eighteenth. cheese. These elements were assembled before the cooking. Sweet. Rules for menu composition imposed balance and variety. an ice (sometimes served as an entremets). an entremets (“between dishes. between roast and cheese) that often consisted of foie gras. nineteenth. for instance. The menus available on a daily basis in wealthy houses and in grand restaurants were for banquets. The découpage (carving) was carried out in the dining room. Each combination pulled from the matrix is a specific dish with its own name.96 Food Culture in France range from traditional and regional to the cuisines exotiques (“exotic” cuisines) borrowed from around the world. and early twentieth centuries. The workspace may be a tiny room that differs little from a home kitchen.e. codifying. A proper meal in the grand style consisted of potage or soup. a variety of entrées or first courses. and they added interest to the final presentation. a cavernous chamber appointed with industrial strength appliances and staffed by a numerous brigade (contingent of kitchen staff) in a large hotel. may be cooked in different ways. and rationalizing grand cooking into a clear system. a roast. served with a variety of sauces. Fish and meat must not be combined in the same dish: they belonged in separate courses.. yet clearly related to other dishes with which it may be paired or contrasted to compose a full meal. soft dishes such as a creamy dessert must be accompanied by a dry biscuit for contrast. dishes were served en salle (in the dining room). Influential transformations occurred in high-end restaurant cooking during the middle and late twentieth century. The peak of success for grand cooking came at the turn of the twentieth century and is best reflected in the Guide culinaire (1903) of Auguste Escoffier. and accompanied by a selection of fillings or garnishes that lend flavor. Staff performed numerous tasks. dessert. Repetition must be avoided from garnish to vegetable to side dish. and waiters served from full-sized platters that they carried around the table. in some cases to finish the cooking.” i. a salad. a hot appetizer or hors-d’oeuvre followed by a relevé that was seasoned to provide flavor contrast. A given cut of meat. desserts such as crêpes Suzette were flambéed tableside.

transformations traceable to about mid-century pushed food and service in the direction of contemporary practice. Chefs rejected as heavy and antiquated the overuse of preparations such as the roux (flour cooked in butter. Service was now à l’assiette (by individual plate). A fish preparation from the Troisgros kitchen shows the influence of nouvelle cuisine. Unconventional combinations appeared. chefs initiated a kind of control and direct contact with individual diners by plating food in the kitchen. Chicken and shrimp brochettes (grilled on skewers) were an innovation. a thickening liaison used as a sauce base. plat. Chefs brought together items formerly separated into different courses and began to use ingredients formerly excluded from elegant cooking. to which liquid is added). the food critics and guidebook authors Henri Gault and Christian Millau called the new style nouvelle cuisine (new cuisine) and became its outspoken champions. Beginning in the 1950s. They now preferred fruit and vegetable purées and reductions. the grand serving platters disappeared. Today. and dessert. magret de canard (breast of duck). elements of nouvelle cuisine such as the emphasis on fresh ingredients and clear flavors are part of the culinary lexicon of nearly every discerning chef. and they sought to make food taste as fresh as possible.Cooking 97 As chefs asserted their autonomy. or gésier (gizzard) confit. In 1973. As chefs traveled abroad and as immigrants from the former colonies introduced new foods and ingredients. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. Ultimately the meal was simplified to today’s standard of three courses: entrée (first course). Foie gras moved from the end of the meal to the start as a first course or entrée. as was green salad topped with slices of foie gras. “exotics” from kiwis to couscous further inflected French cooking. .

striking mixtures of foreign and local ingredients and methods. the proponents of la jeune cuisine (young cuisine) take a personal. as a matter of principle. such as cooking sous vide (“in a vacuum”). everyday fare provide a steady continuo beneath the elaborate melodies of fashion and fad. a kind of comfort food. quirky approach to highly refined cooking that is also creative. For convenience. A piece of food enclosed in a sealed bag or container is cooked at a relatively low . occupies a relatively small space in France. In the 1990s. casual restaurant kitchens exploit industrial innovations: pre-prepared vegetables. Outspoken fusion cuisine. Cuisine de tradition. precooked items. economy. a group of chefs published a manifesto protesting the encroachment of globalizing influences and praising all things native and local. characterized by bold. Chefs in a variety of contexts adopt new materials and industrial techniques. Varieties of cuisine du terroir focus on native ingredients and dishes. nostalgic. In some cases. truffle. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. Relatively simple establishments serving well-prepared. or to compensate for insufficient staff. These menus may be authentic. they attach to a political ideology that seeks to resist or attenuate outside influences and to affirm a local or regional identity. even homely dishes to eaters whose nostalgia for home cooking finds no answer in a fast-paced lifestyle or perhaps in living alone. Several distinct trends are at work in contemporary restaurant cooking. or deliberately conservative. and cream sauce deconstructed into its component parts. with their old hierarchies and structures. Instead. even ludic. a nouvelle vague (new wave) of young cooks with outstanding credentials from apprenticeships in top kitchens has moved beyond the domain of Michelin-starred restaurants.98 Food Culture in France Post-modern food from the Troisgros kitchen: pasta with a mushroom. dehydrated fonds de sauce (sauce bases). offers familiar. Within the last five years.

ritual. the first narrative food guide judged Parisian restaurants for quality. The guide author. or obsessive theme. Here.12 To be sure. interest. the players in the various culinary and gastronomic spheres have multiplied. Through the eighteenth century. with little added liquid. 1803–1812). standards of quality can be guaranteed. Contained within the yearly publication entitled the Almanach des Gourmands (Gourmands’ Almanac. Durable print extended the life and reach of ephemeral edibles. Since the seventeenth century it has enjoyed tremendous prestige. as well as giving their addresses. Geography or budget may prevent one from visiting an outstanding restaurant in a neighboring province. His judgments also affected the subsequent activities of chefs and caterers concerned to receive favorable reviews. such works as domestic tracts and novels have done the same. saw important innovations in food writing. The first decade of the nineteenth century. and a new food publishing industry gained impressive momentum. and the chef is spared worry. Over two centuries. Since antiquity.Cooking 99 temperature. the results are predictable. leitmotif. As in the United States. and stakes for the other. and shared enjoyment. histories. readers. writers) exerted a mutual influence. and knowledge derive from reading a newspaper review of the restaurant. restaurants multiplied. and poems have treated aspects of food culture as a primary subject or ancillary topic. variety. COOKING AND THE MEDIA French food has long been known for its special éclat (sparkle and glamour). But other pleasure. and according to precise timing. More recently. however. chefs and food producers interact intensively with writers. and the scope of their activities has increased. reported on restaurants and food items ostensibly as he experienced them. along with conviviality. . the reputation and prominence of French cuisine within the country and beyond is due not only to the excellence and variety of the food but also to the elaboration of discourses about that food. and consumers. Grimod de la Reynière. the prevalent associations are quality. the activities of producers (cooks. fashion in food emanated from grand houses and the royal court. publicists. paeans to the pleasures of the table are ancient. Each reinforced the importance. food sellers) and consumers (eaters. In principle. legitimacy. Today. and coherence. notably the first modern-style narrative food guide and food periodical. As political and social structures evolved (highlighted by the Revolution of 1789). This back-and-forth democratizes food cultures and also serves to legislate and regulate standards of taste and quality. Since the early nineteenth century. agricultural and medical treatises.

Gilles Normand. food-related Web sites and databases. too. 2006). A strong review sends customers flocking in droves to a restaurant. There is a marked increase in the recent publication of cookbooks for “exotic” cuisines (of Thailand. The phenomenon indexes the social prestige of food connoisseurship in an affluent society. The mediatization of cuisine encourages participation. A newspaper column influences home cooks seeking ideas for dinner. NOTES 1. Some have stated their lack of interest in the distinction of a Michelin star and chosen to prepare food that expresses a personal preference or philosophy. 2. A critical piece banishes the chef to culinary and economic purgatory. They ignore as interference the mediating roles of critic and reporter to please themselves and their clients directly. “Consuming Wine in France: The ‘Wandering’ Drinker and the Vin-anomie. in other words. It includes food shows on television. They refuse. Histoire des maisons à succursales en France (Paris: Union des entreprises modernes. . and stimulates the imagination. An everlarger number of cookbooks are available in bookstores. As in the United States. Wilson (Oxford: Berg.” in Drinking Cultures: Alcohol and Identity. to conform. Marion Demossier. John Ardagh. These chefs have taken themselves out of the running for prestigious honors. Amy Jacobs (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.100 Food Culture in France watching a televised interview with the chef. and perhaps making some of his recipes at home. From day to day. 139. 3. purchasing the chef ’s cookbook. The power of critics is so strong that a few chefs at the most elevated end of the cooking spectrum have rebelled. the media extension of food in France is now vast. 2005). 1983. 4. France in the 1980s (New York: Penguin. Market Day in Provence. 1982). teaching viewers and readers how to cook and about food. Yet the response of writers and critics influences cooks. 396–405. 1936). The interactions of food producers and consumers further shape and regulate—prescribe and proscribe—standards of quality and concepts of good taste. and periodicals devoted to food and cooking. trans. or Japan) or focusing on clearly foreign foodstuffs (from Anglo muffins or scones to Chinese wok dishes). editor Thomas M. Morocco. in order to cook by their own lights. providing a space for fantasy in which the dining table is a vanishing point in the far distance. Michèle de la Pradelle. it is the home cooks and restaurant chefs who serve up continuity and creativity on the plate.

Histoire des cuisiniers en France XIXe-XXe siècle (Paris: CNRS. Drouard. eds.” American Journal of Sociology 104. Sylvie-Anne Mériot. 2004). Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson. . Trevor Cox and Chanelle Paul (Boston: Brill. 2006). La Reynière [Robert Courtine].Cooking 101 5.” L’Histoire 273 (February 2003): 25–26. 54. Drouard. 6. 11. Histoire de l’alimentation: Quels enjeux pour la formation? (Dijon: Educagri. 9. 20. trans. 10. 7. Nostalgic Cooks: Another French Paradox. 2004). Alain Drouard. no. “Ces dames au ‘piano. “A Cultural Field in the Making: Gastronomy in 19th-Century France. 1977).. 8. 12. Drouard. Patrick Rambourg. 131 and passim in Julia Csergo and Christophe Marion. 2004).’” Le Monde (May 21. 133. “Guerre des sexes au fourneau!. 3 (November 1998): 597–641 and Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


. As the service of dishes progresses.4 Typical Meals Three meals each day is typical in France. The evening meal is looked forward to as a respite from the day’s work. with its unfolding sequence of courses.M. and income. The dîner. is now an important meal. long the main meal for many people. plat. eating schedules varied greatly according to profession. dinner is often the only weekday meal for which the whole family can gather together at table. at about 8 P. Seasonal changes and religious observance also played a role. although for different groups of people. the déjeuner (lunch). . the familiar structure frames conversation and reinforces the separation of mealtime from the hustle and bustle of the day. Through the late nineteenth century. for example.1 Elites might eat twice daily. and fromage or dessert) or may consist of a sandwich eaten on the run. MEAL TIMES Today’s standard three meals evolved over centuries. Because both men and women work outside the home. The petit déjeuner (breakfast). and as an opportunity to enjoy the sensual pleasures of food and drink. as a time to see family members. taken in the morning before school or work. region. is especially conducive to relaxed enjoyment at table. is insubstantial. At noon. The structure of the French meal. may still be substantial and served in three courses (entrée. From one to four meals daily was common.

2 As recently as the late eighteenth century. there was the déjeuner. this meal could also include meat and wine. usually consisted of soup. or coffee was still somewhat remarkable. and then finally the souper. Despite the importance of the mid-day meal. The names used today for the three meals recall how practices have changed over time. including the month of paid vacation given to salaried workers since 1965 (converted to five weeks in 1981) and the 35-hour workweek instituted in the late 1990s. possibly quite elaborate and luxurious meals in a sociable setting. After the Second World War. the custom of privileging the evening dîner gained in the nineteenth century. then called the déjeuner (“to break the fast”). the population of villagers and rural dwellers is small. A smaller meal (le souper). Because the first substantial meal was now relatively late. material comfort. was often a working meal in the sense of today’s business lunches. this early meal was called le petit (small) déjeuner. most likely made of vegetables and grains. For those who ate all four meals. and bread. the déjeuner might be practically the only nourishment throughout the day. The demographic and industrial shift resulted in the shared work schedule that now prevails. might be added in the early evening. the mid-day meal was sometimes called a déjeuner à la fourchette (fork luncheon).104 Food Culture in France and manual laborers up to four times each day. wine. which included meat and required the use of a fork and knife. Today. and convivial enjoyment that accompanies the working-class. The professional classes preferred to eat a large déjeuner at noon or one o’clock. after accomplishing the morning’s work. that is. but in the countryside the word souper is still used to mean the evening meal. a second. By the 1890s. For agricultural workers who stayed in the fields all day long and for those who worked far from home. the first meal. but this was not consistent. School and most work schedules are designed to allow . as larger numbers of people cultivated the leisurely enjoyment of carefully prepared. The déjeuner à la fourchette. By the early nineteenth century. technological modernization and the massive exodus from villages and rural areas to cities transformed society. the mid-day dîner (or collation). again soup or light stew. Today. smaller déjeuner was added to tide over appetites until mid-day. As industrial jobs increased in number and urban populations became larger. For those in modest circumstances. the morning déjeuner and mid-day dîner each migrated later in the day. supper was the most substantial meal. middle-class and modern bourgeois family dinner makes an equally important contribution to quality of life. the sense of leisure. the light goûter or snack. The name suggests that the presence for a déjeuner of items other than liquid soup. Affluence also made significant social reforms possible. if they were available.

becomes more than the sum of its parts. such as an omelet. others do not keep late evening hours. it may consist of eggs. or a cooked salad. a plate of crudités (raw vegetables) served with a vinaigrette dressing. and balance and harmony are sought when planning a meal. the family meal is at times a locus of tension. larger numbers of people living alone. crisp. peppery. be it ever so simple. and a finished dish. A main dish usually contains meat. outmoded. Edibles seek complements.M.. so the appetite is not overwhelmed by the succession of different edibles. so that both ingredients end up tasting even better. As a culture.Typical Meals 105 breaks for meals. The community aspect of meals strengthens social ties and even the sense of equality. Factors such as the fast pace of modern life. For a summer seasonal entrée. An entrée or first course might consist of soup. Because most people throughout the country take meals at about the same time. freedom from the ritual of the family meal may be experienced as an opportunity to develop a more individual lifestyle. so that staff have evenings free. or fish. fresh radishes are balanced . and people take a slice or break off a piece of a loaf as desired. as well as to enjoy every last drop of the sauce. or simply impossible to achieve. The French palate prefers rich and deep flavors over sharp or spicy ones. making the meal an expression of shared values. Eating is considered a convivial activity par excellence. poultry. and the replacement or disappearance of the nuclear family as the defining social unit. make the family meal seem for some irrelevant. Afterward comes a green tossed salad and a cheese course. Especially in the younger generation. that food tastes better when it is shared. STRUCTURE OF A MAIN MEAL The dishes that make up a main meal appear in a succession of separate courses. This is a convenient way to clean the plate between courses if the plates are not changed. Although the practice is frowned on in polite (such as bourgeois) circles. the French place a high value on sociability and community. As in many countries. Bread is placed on the table throughout the meal. This is followed by a plat principal or main dish. Many think that to eat “all alone” (manger tout seul) is sad. the family meal or a full meal with friends or colleagues is a central feature of daily life. although others worry about a decline of traditional ways and deterioration of the social fabric. Portions are small. Nonetheless. Some shops and offices close at mid-day. to reopen in the afternoon at 1:30 or 2:00 P. with perhaps a fruit or sweet to finish. there is a strong shared feeling of the rhythm of the day. small pieces of bread are used to sop up sauces and salad dressings.

Moroccan. Such factors as cost. It is unusual to mix salty and sweet flavors within a single dish. pared down to a hearty composed salad as a main dish. menus will group dishes into entrées. smaller meals for health reasons mitigate against preparing and eating the full succession of courses. and interest in eating lighter. many people. Whether or not the practice coincides with eating custom in the country of origin of the food itself. People sometimes add a pinch of salt. A hot main dish may be followed by a crisp. or a stove-top Moka device that forces water up through ground coffee by steam pressure. the clean acidity of tomato and the aroma of anise seed complement the sweet marine flavors in a fish soup. BREAKFAST The petit déjeuner is light and simple. plats. the whole thing accompanied by bread—the foods are nonetheless organized within the traditional structure. and so on) adapt their menus to follow French custom. heated milk poured with strong hot coffee into a hemispherical bowl. as one is refusing what is traditional and expected. Eating a sandwich for a quick lunch would not be called taking a meal. Chinese. dense slice of foie gras cries out for a spoonful of sweettart currant or gooseberry preserve. restaurants serving a foreign cuisine (Vietnamese. which are thought of as substitutions or deviations. Structuring the main meal in courses is both a typical practice and also an ideal for eating well. For the morning meal adults drink café au lait. a French press that allows ground coffee to release its fragrance into freshly boiled water before a dense hard filter is lowered in to separate out the grounds. Thai. but simply referred to as eating. For a main dish. especially women concerned with weight gain. cool salad. The expectations for a proper meal color perceptions of other forms of eating. a dash of . Durable combinations of flavors and textures are sought. and desserts and vary the portions accordingly. which is still present in miniature. replace the cheese course with a light alternative such as yogurt. much less a proper meal. A rich. When eating at home. Similarly. lack of time. Another important feature of French meals is the distinction between savory and sweet. followed by cheese. Sweets are saved for the end of a meal. Although such substitutions are common. Any one of several methods is used for brewing the coffee fresh: the paper filter method in an electric coffee maker or stove-top glass cone. there is a self-consciousness about making them.106 Food Culture in France with creamy dairy butter spread on fresh bread and finished with a sprinkling of salt. If a meal is abbreviated on a busy weeknight—say. and likely described as eating sur le pouce (in a hurry).

The healthconscious add a glass of fruit juice or a serving of yogurt to their breakfast. Restaurant-style machines for making coffee by steam pressure are available for use at home. The depth and large diameter of the café au lait bowl are accommodating for this purpose. instant coffee such as Nescafé is dissolved by stirring into hot milk.M. or Nutella to make a tartine. quite out of the ordinary. An effort is made to provide foods that are considered healthful and appropriate for the late morning: bread and cheese. into their morning hot milk. MORNING SNACK Children begin the school day at 8:30 A. a small sandwich made of buttered bread with a slice of ham. Processed cereals such as corn flakes or puffed rice eaten with cold milk are now popular enough that grocery stores stock them. Dunking the bread or pastry into the coffee is a beloved practice. honey. For weekend breakfasts or a special treat. fruit yogurt. the morning snack. Alternatively.. people do not eat a large breakfast. Un café. In recent years tea has become more popular. or a spoon of cocoa powder to the ground coffee to vary or balance the flavor. jam. is eaten along with the coffee. is served in a demi-tasse . COFFEE BREAKS Working people and students take a break (une pause) in the morning or afternoon to drink small cups of strong coffee. any coffee drunk at other times of day is taken without milk. and these are well liked by connoisseurs. A piece of bread. also called un petit café or un petit noir. Children drink hot chocolate.M. the small amount of food eaten for breakfast accompanies the café au lait. After the breakfast café au lait. pastry such as croissants or brioche (from yeasted dough enriched with butter) replaces plain bread. although it is not considered a sustaining beverage. In cities. with its pleasing dark brown color and nutty flavor. The snack is brought from home. such as a section of baguette spread with butter. It is the hot milk in the café au lait or café crème that is considered the nourishing part of the breakfast. On late weekend mornings. including many of the American brands. and at about 10:30 A.Typical Meals 107 cinnamon. break for la collation du matin. a few restaurants serve brunch. Those who seek to avoid caffeine stir powdered roasted chicory root. but simply drink coffee or nothing at all and eat a regular lunch. or it may be provided by the parents of each child for the whole class on a rotating schedule. or a piece of fruit such as an apple. but le brunch is considered an exotic meal.

cups of coffee can be purchased from vending machines that grind the beans and brew a fresh cup.. In cafés. As of the . the work day and school day extend relatively late into the afternoon. so that their child qualifies to eat lunch at school. so that a bit of leisure is built into the work day. friends. it is common to specify a preference for coffee that is serré (dense). or hired by the school from a catering company. Recent demographic and nutritional information has led to changed recommendations.e. or if the coffee is being made at home with a restaurantstyle machine. made with more water. with schools scheduling a full two hours for the mid-day meal and pause and many businesses allowing a similar break. The few sips of strong coffee are considered outside the range of foods and meals. either prepared on the premises if there is a full kitchen facility. About 66 percent of primary school children take lunch at school. By law emanating from the Ministry of Education. and the school lunch was often extremely simple.M. public schools were required to provide half of the day’s nutritional requirements through the school lunch. to 1:30 P. In a café. such as a cold plate of sandwiches or charcuterie. The small coffees are not seen as nourishing. but rather as revivifying. according to taste. however. Starting in the early 1970s. of course. Lunch at School Primary schools schedule the lunch break from about 11:30 A. have a cantine or cafeteria that provides a full.” i. or until 2:00 P. to accommodate parents’ work schedules. a coffee can be drunk standing up at a counter. a very small cup). Both parents must provide proof of their employment status. The break is long enough to allow for a relaxed meal and for socializing with colleagues.M. LUNCH Lunch is between noon and about 2 P. hot meal. stronger and smaller.M. there is some variation in these times across the country.108 Food Culture in France (“half-cup. Since the break is substantial. as food is. Schools. At many businesses and high schools. that is. This ruling was based on the assumption that children ate the main meal at home in the evening. or at a more leisurely pace sitting at a table. if the day ends at 5 P. It is taken plain or with sugar. and at airports and highway rest stops. or allongé (“stretched out”). if one is in a hurry.M... or family. like businesses.M. schools are required to provide lunch for children whose parents both work or whose parents are unemployed but seeking work. with less water used relative to the amount of ground coffee.

and the regional authority takes on responsibility for high school meals. and the need to balance nutritional concerns with commercial pressures. school lunch consists of an entrée of a salad or vegetable. however. children develop social and communication skills. and eating in public secondary schools. School lunches vary in character and quality. Since the early 1980s. according to organization at the local level. to what degree schools should cater to students unable to eat the standard fare because of religious background.” how to eat a “proper” meal. which in turn assists in the development of a national identity and to maintain the culture. underwrite the effort. In learning how to eat “well.3 In theory the school meal serves more than simply the nutritional needs of children and adolescents. cooking. restaurants offer traditional meals at reduced prices.Typical Meals 109 year 2000. At issue today are interest in organizing cantines to include local and regional foods. It also betrays concerns about the demise of national cultural identity in the era of Europeanization and . The educational effort extends even to the adult population. At table. The school lunch is a topic of ongoing debate. they learn to understand and appreciate food. official statements from the Ministry of Education have noted the importance of meals for education. the annual Semaine du goût or Week of Taste held every October since 1991 represents another means of promoting culinary and gastronomic education in schools. Generally. The département or prefecture is in charge of organizing meals for secondary schools. the municipal jurisdiction or city oversees lunch preparations. a snack (10 percent). In primary schools and nursery schools. and bread. school lunches must provide 40 percent of daily nutritional needs. Thus school meals are legislated as sites for taste education.4 The establishment of the Week of Taste owes much to the corporate interests that. along with the government. it is assumed that the rest comes from breakfast (20 percent). and dinner (30 percent). In learning to eat balanced meals. Professional chefs leave their restaurants to teach lessons about food. a meat or fish dish accompanied by cooked vegetables. following the current norm. they learn principles for maintaining good health and understanding food safety. perceived as insufficiently knowledgeable in the culinary heritage of their own country. During the Semaine du goût. a dessert. A prevalent worry is how to promote milk and water over soft drinks and to ensure that children consume adequate fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid too much fat and sugar. Culinary Heritage in Schools If ideological concerns shape the school lunch.

as companies subsidize meals there. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. where the same meal would cost two to three times this price in a restaurant. Students are wearing the protective cleanroom garments that butchers put on when they break down carcasses. globalization.110 Food Culture in France Butchers wearing the asymmetrical aprons of their trade distribute samples of roast beef during a school taste class. fruit. An employee may pay in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 Euros for a full meal in the cantine. Lunch at Work Many businesses offer some sort of meal subsidy to employees as a benefit. Lunch in a company cantine is relatively inexpensive. Another way that businesses subsidize their employees’ . universalistic idea. commonly called the cantine (canteen). water and coffee. Yet the Semaine du goût also manifests a democratic. where employees eat lunch. One selects the components of a full meal. Businesses of substantial enough size and nearly every large corporation have an in-house restaurant de l’entreprise (company restaurant). The cultivation of taste and the pleasure of eating well. cooked vegetables. cheese. salads. are a matter of education and should be accessible to all. placing the dishes on a tray: bread. yogurt. The cantine is generally set up cafeteria-style. like reading and mathematics. wine and beer. a hot main dish.

High-school students and adults may take a coffee or a cup of tea in the late afternoon. nuts. pain perdu (French toast.M. Schools and the garderie (child care) usually let out at 4:30 P. a piece of freshly baked pastry. To tempt the youthful sweet tooth there are any number of produits industriels (packaged or processed products). The goûter is similar to the morning collation. The voucher is used like a traveler’s check in restaurants.Typical Meals 111 meals is through the ticket-restaurant. as one of several ways of eating poorly. or raisins). or in some areas as late as 5:00 or 6:00 P. people bring lunch from home.M. or to purchase food from the charcutier and in other food shops. then sautéing in butter). timed to coincide with the end of the parents’ workday. or a pastry. at a traiteur or caterer’s to buy prepared food to take out. but is more likely to consist of something sweet: bread and a piece of chocolate or some Nutella. and eating in moderation. a tartine. and a glass of fruit juice or milk.. return home. It is also a way for parents to welcome their children home after school. manger correctement) or to eat “normally” (manger normalement) means sticking to the three main meals. a piece of fruit that can be eaten out of hand. for example. paying about 3 Euros for a coupon worth 5.. or take lunch in a restaurant. as children find the wait from lunch until dinner too long to tolerate comfortably. and perhaps an apple. snacking in general is frowned on for adults. or “lost” stale bread that is brought back to life by soaking in eggs and milk. The snack is partially a matter of practical necessity. AFTERNOON SNACK Every day children look forward to the goûter or afternoon snack that marks their return home from school. a yogurt. If no cantine is available. Employees purchase coupons from their companies at a discount. To eat well (bien manger. and conversationally catch up on the day’s news. reestablish contact after the separation of the afternoon or entire day. Eating when one is not hungry is seen as excessive. a crushed soft fresh fruit such as an apricot or peach sprinkled with a bit of sugar and eaten on a piece of toast. At table people may . from biscuits (plain butter cookies or the same thing covered with chocolate) and gâteaux (individual portions of sponge cake with chocolate) to Kinder (the brand name and generic moniker of chocolate covered wafers. a tartine spread with jam or honey. Snacking versus Eating Well Beyond the collation and goûter given to children. eating a variety of foods thought to be reasonably healthful.

Children drink a sirop such as mint or barley syrup poured over ice and mixed with water. Favorite appetizers include toasts or thin slices of bread with rillettes or rounds of sliced hard sausage. the practice of snacking has increased. Some sort of food accompanies the apéritif. such as steaks and chops. like the later word gastronome. The word is significant. such as salmon and tuna. salt. is enjoyed as an overture to conversation. Apéritif Drinking an apéritif or cocktail before a full meal. as well as fillets of firm-fleshed fish. A typical weekday dinner might begin with a salad of grated carrots dressed with mustard vinaigrette. and mixed drinks are all standard apéritifs for adults. In summer. one of the Seven Deadly Sins of the Catholic tradition. some combination of greed and pleasure. and grilling. has meant a knowledgeable eater. a kir or sweet white wine such as Muscat or Monbazillac may be served chilled. as eating patterns change to accommodate long commutes and intensively scheduled work days. baked savory biscuits. the apéritif or apéro often falls by the wayside. but the onus connected with it has not diminished. Bread is eaten throughout the meal to accompany each course. searing. At home. is seen as unnecessary.112 Food Culture in France sociably announce as they help themselves to an extra serving of a wellliked dish. and gougères (baked cheese puffs). pastis. and finish with a green salad and a piece of cheese. or snacking. such as sautéing. whether lunch or (more commonly) dinner. and pepper and served with some purée (mash) of broccoli or potatoes. Nonetheless. that they are eating par gourmandise. but for more leisurely meals on weekends or holidays. even antisocial. and for foodstuffs that respond well to these methods. as if to excuse themselves even as they draw attention to the indulgence as exceptional. a small piece of pissaladière (Provençal pizza topped with caramelized onions). Eating outside the setting of the large regular meals of lunch and dinner. whiskey. in recent years. progress to a portion of sautéed onglet (similar to hangar steak) garnished with butter. the preference is for fast cooking methods. it is a welcome opening act to a full meal. Many families . Since the late eighteenth century. broiling. WEEKDAY DINNER Busy schedules during the week contribute to the preference for dishes that are relatively quick and simple to prepare and to some abbreviation of the full sequence of courses. On busy weekdays. as well as for whetting the appetite. Yet the term derives from gourmandise or gluttony. gourmand.

but this custom is hardly observed anymore.Typical Meals 113 keep crunchy or salty foods on hand as appetizers to lay out in small bowls: olives. A roast leg of lamb studded with slivers of garlic and rubbed with rosemary branches and served with baked white haricot beans. and a great deal of socializing takes place as everyone moves about the kitchen. fish was eaten on Friday evenings for religious reasons. to stay at a second residence or to visit extended family. The dish has many variations. Historically. small salted crackers. peeled • 5 carrots. Blanquette de veau or d’agneau (white veal or lamb stew) is a dish that people make at home in the spring and for Easter Sunday. peanuts or cashews. and Sunday lunch is traditionally a meal taken with family. It is also common to go out for a predinner drink with friends or family before moving on to dinner at a restaurant or returning home to eat. Weekend meals usually consist of the full range of courses and include a before-dinner drink. including browning the meat before adding the liquid. WEEKEND MEALS: SATURDAY DINNER AND SUNDAY LUNCH On the weekend there is more time to create elaborate meals and use slower cooking methods and to linger over the meal with family and friends. The invitation to prendre un verre or prendre un pot (go out for a drink) is social and understood to mean a drink taken together before dinner. despite the name blanquette. Some of the more elaborate dishes make large quantities of food that require a greater number of eaters to consume them. are typical centerpieces for weekend meals. or a chicken roasted on a bed of sliced onions and carrots. peeled and sliced into rounds . there are more hands to help out. Both are likely to be cooked and eaten at a leisurely pace and in a festive atmosphere. chips. Saturday evening is often reserved for socializing with friends. With a weekend party of family or friends.5 Veal Stew (Blanquette de veau) • 2 pounds shoulder of veal • 1 large onion • 5 sprigs parsley • 10 peppercorns (whole) • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 5 cloves garlic • 4 cups water • 12 pearl onions. Many city dwellers will leave town for the day if not the whole weekend.

Add the pearl onions and carrots. veal. Taste for seasoning. and served moistened with a bit of the cooking . and leeks. turnips. chicken. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat. and pearl onions to a serving dish. sirloin. onions. Reduce the heat under the broth so it nearly stops simmering. Bring to a boil. and simmer 15 minutes more. such as flank. Regional variations add other meats than beef. salt. Stir a ladle of broth into the egg yolks and cream to temper the mixture. bacon. for a main course consisting of grilled meats such as spicy merguez. peppercorns. outdoor barbecues are popular for weekend gatherings. which usually include a combination of fattier and leaner meats. and tailbones (oxtail) or a marrow bone. potatoes. then pour the sauce over the meat. A very large pot or multiple pots are required to hold the ingredients. and pot-au-feu (mixed boiled meats). then pour it into the reduced broth. Enjoy the stew hot with rice or boiled potatoes. which adds to the sense of occasion. Strain the broth. then reduce heat and simmer gently for 60 minutes. A weekend meal often ends with a bought pastry such as a cake or fruit tart from a pâtissier. celery. or lamb. carrots. Test to make sure the veal is tender. the meats are sliced and arranged on platters. In the summer. Arrange the cooked mushrooms on top as a garnish. parsley. It should not boil. and steaks. onion. a slow-simmered poule-au-pot (stuffed chicken stewed with vegetables).114 • • • • Food Culture in France 2 teaspoons lemon juice 2 large egg yolks 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/2 pound mushrooms. such as ham. then sautéed in butter Cut the veal into 2-inch pieces. preserved duck (confit de carnard). The flavorful broth is served as a first course. Afterward. and water in a saucepan. Parsley or the selection of herbs called bouquet garni is added as well. then simmer until it reduces by about one-third. Vegetables added to the pot include carrots. Pot-au-feu (“pot on the fire”) derives its flavor from the combination of three or more whole cuts of meat that are cooked together with a few vegetables and herbs. cleaned and sliced. continuing to stir over very gentle heat until the sauce thickens. Beat the eggs yolks and cream together. The water should just cover the other ingredients. Other traditional preparations having any number of regional variations include daube (beef stew). Place the veal. pork sausage. garlic. Stir in the lemon juice.

and so on that the hosts can afford. mild. such as a cold salad or a baked meat tourte. and it is certainly a symbol for the successful middle-class lifestyle. cheeses. coarse sea salt. there may be little extra ceremony. or a cold plate of local charcuterie. or after a day of skiing during a winter vacation. this is a treasured sign of intimacy. ENTERTAINING AT HOME: MEALS FOR GUESTS When close friends are invited to share the regular family meal. Simple Onion Soup (Soupe à l’oignon) • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter • 6 cups coarsely chopped onion • 3 1/2 cups water or broth • 1/2 cup white wine • salt • pepper . all stops are pulled for guests invited into the home. and small glasses of after-dinner liqueurs. pigs’ feet boiled then roasted to a golden brown in the oven.Typical Meals 115 broth. cornichons (small sharp pickles). coffee may be offered. the specialty of a favorite late-night bistro. will be selected in anticipation of having guests. or sour condiments: mustard. A hot soup such as onion is appreciated as a restorative at any hour of the night after going out. The same principle of balance that guides the choices of foods in a meal also applies to selecting pairings of wine and food. A late souper or supper may consist of nearly anything: a dish of pasta or a composed salad made at home. grated horseradish. The extra effort is made out of respect for the guest but also to do honor to the hosts. a bottle or bottles of wine. After the meal. LATE SUPPERS After going out to the movies or the theatre. The tender. The full sequence of courses will be carefully prepared and attention given to buy the best ingredients. In other cases. Although water is the most common beverage at the dinner table. richly succulent meat is balanced with pungent. Wine is considered an essential component of a good meal. capers. people may make a very late meal at home or eat in one of the relatively few restaurants that keep late hours. be it oysters on the half-shell. Inevitably pot-au-feu gives leftovers that can be reheated for another meal or transformed into other dishes. as well as other alcohols. salty.

La blanquette de veau: Histoire d’un plat bourgeois. “Parlons goût” and “À palais ouverts. 2.” Le Monde (October 23. until golden. Jean Claude Ribaut. crusty variety • 1/4 cup olive oil • 3 cups Gruyère cheese. Or. Grignon. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. 197–225 in Maurice Aymard. “La règle. Raise the heat to medium to bring the mixture to a simmer.. Jean-Louis Flandrin. NOTES 1. Isabelle Téchoueyres.” Le Monde (October 20. preferably a dense-crumbed. and sprinkle on the grated cheese to garnish. cover. grated In a saucepan. eds. Le Temps de manger: Alimentation. preheat the oven to 350° F. 3.. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 2000). Claude Grignon. and Sabban. Ladle on the onion broth. and cook for about 45 minutes. Add the onions.116 Food Culture in France • 6 slices of day-old bread. To serve the soup. Jean-Louis Flandrin. 2003). 4. 275–323 in Aymard. eds. 1994). and bake about 10 minutes. Serve bubbling hot. and Michele Aulagnon and Vincent Charbonnier. 373–87 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. ladle the soup into individual ramekins or a tureen that can go in the oven. preface by Patrick Rambourg (Paris: Jean-Paul Rocher. 2002).” pp. Add the water or broth and the wine. Bake 20 minutes at 450° F to melt and brown the cheese. 5. Uncover the pot.” pp. 1994). “Les heures des repas en France avant le XIXe siècle. and simmer gently for 45 minutes. if you prefer. Adam Sage. la mode et le travail: La genèse social du modèle des repas français contemporain. . emploi du temps et rythmes sociaux (Paris: Editions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme and INRA. place on a baking sheet. “La quatrième édition de la semaine du goût. 1993). “La Semaine du goût. Toward the end of cooking they should form a soft mass and be uniformly brown in color. stirring occasionally. “French turn up noses at their own food.” pp. For the croutons. 1993). and Françoise Sabban. place a crouton in the bottom of each soup bowl. melt the butter over low heat. Claude Grignon. Brush the bread slices with olive oil. “Eating at School in France: An Anthropological Analysis of the Dynamics and Issues Involved in Implementing Public Policy.” The Times of London (October 14.” Le Monde (October 15.

1 In the past. from fine restaurants gastronomiques to fast-food restaurants and chains. Restaurant offerings are varied. such as the United Kingdom. and expenditure for food to be eaten at home fell by a full 7 percent. the wish for social interaction. Between 1970 and 1990.5 Eating Out Eating at home is the norm for most people on most days. The current practice of taking meals in commercial restaurants is the result of affluence and the incursion of work into mealtime.25 percent. . novelty establishments where the interest lies as much with atmosphere as with food. especially in urban areas. the trend to take meals outside of the home increases perceptibly in France. Traditional or regional bills of fare. if not as quickly as in some affluent nations. At present. An estimate from 2004 calculated 9 billion meals out taken annually. household spending on eating out increased . and the practice is typical.6 billion in commercial restaurants. Of these people ate 3. and the need for a public location to transact business motivated people to eat outside of the home. Nonetheless. and fast food and chains contribute to the restaurant scene. The French do not eat outside of the home as frequently as residents of some nations with a comparable standard of living. the average is 120 meals outside of the home yearly. yet traditions of eating out go back centuries. cuisines from other nations and cultures.7 billion meals in cafeterias and other collective settings and 4. the lack of space and tools for cooking. or one meal out every three days.

Niç ois socca is the delicate-textured. or from narrow windows and counters that open up directly onto the street. ice cream stores open windows that face onto the street so that one can line up for a cone. In parks. Regions have their own specialties that vendors sell at stands. boulangeries open up their storefronts to display squares of pizza and triangles of quiche.118 Food Culture in France STREET FOODS Although it is not necessary for most people today to eat in the street. baguette filled with tuna. crème de marrons (chestnut cream). the whole richly The sign for Jean-Pierre Coumont’s ice-cream and sorbet in Saint Tropez (Var) indicates that they are hand-made by the sellers using pure fruits and no food colorings. nutty-flavored savory pancake made of chickpea flour that is served up blistering hot directly from a round griddle. In the cities of the South. Pizza can also be purchased from stationary trucks. Courtesy of Janine Depoil. and slices of hard boiled egg. Nutella. In the summer. Crêpes with a choice of fillings—sugar. . urban areas. purée de pommes (thick. out of trucks. cold stands or trucks for ice cream are popular among children. in particular. never lack for food to tempt those on foot. the favorite sandwich is pan bagnat. black olives. jam-like apple sauce)—can be purchased in the street. tomato wedges. During the summer.

CAFÉS As variations on earlier establishments. More commonly. or a regular Sunday afternoon bingo game that neighborhood residents attend. often they are simple and unpretentious. or comfortable. or skim milk. whole. a lane for bowling running the length of the café. They all serve coffee and some choice of soft drinks. and restaurants and cafés are obliged to provide space for non-fumeurs. apricot. chic. Cafés may have an elegant. RESTAURANTS. AND BRASSERIES Types of restaurants that emerged in the last quarter of the nineteenth century shape today’s culture of eating out. usually baguette) and pastries such as croissants along with café crème. and tomato are usually on hand. hot coffee mixed with heated milk. The fusty. Cafés open early in the morning serve tartines (buttered bread. The interdiction is seen by many as an infringement on personal freedom. grungy.Eating Out 119 laced with olive oil. atmosphere in some cafés is typically enhanced by clouds of cigarette smoke. and some choice of food. along with the possibility of taking away oversized paper cups of the American-style coffee made to any number of untraditional specifications: decaffeinated.2 In recent years. During the cold months in the North. In practice. or simply watch people and the world go by. read the paper. alcohols. It may . A more old-fashioned sort of café may have a football table for baby-foot. Many cafés serve wine. syrups. vendors sell hot roasted or boiled chestnuts and paper cones of freshly toasted peanuts made crunchy with delicately caramelized sugar. one chooses a bottled juice. Today there is little that is more typical than to sit in a café to talk with friends. BISTROS. The term bistro (or bistrot) is thought to have appeared in the 1880s. beer. flavored. however. The latter may be freshly squeezed from citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons. cafés and restaurants emerged during the early modern era. apple. or studious atmosphere. the barrier dividing the two being quite imaginary and certainly ineffective. the opening of Starbucks cafés has added a new variety of chain. Smoking in public places has been illegal since 1992. whether small savory dishes or a selection of pastries. as one eats. and fruit juices. one peels away the waxed paper wrapping that contains the juices. although levels of smoking are on the decline. The habit of smoking sociably while drinking and even eating dies hard. nonsmokers are often seated right next to fumeurs (smokers). Its etymology is unclear. mixed with soy.

tarte Tatin (caramelized upside-down apple tart). The typical Parisian establishment also has its counterparts in the homey local places for other cities or regions. Today. beer on tap) and sometimes hard cider. brasseries tend to stay open later than restaurants. few brasseries brew their own beer. Brasseries that offer literally hundreds of different bottled and draft beers are sometimes referred to as bars belges (Belgian bars). Some began selling wine. moules marinières (mussels cooked in the shell in a light broth flavored with white wine). roast chicken. braised chicken or pintade (Guinea fowl) with tarragon sauce. Brasser means to brew beer. steak-frites. omelets. These natives of the Auvergne initially came to Paris to sell coal mined in their region. such as the bouchon in Lyon and winstub in the Alsace region. especially bière à la pression (draft beer. Because of the focus on drinking. A brasserie alsacienne serving food will offer Alsatian specialties such as cooked sausages. then ended up running restaurants (including the famous Brasserie Lipp and the Café de Flore) and forming a tightly supportive community of regional expatriates based in the capital. purée de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes). Rather. choucroute (sauerkraut). The term bistouille used in the North to mean a hearty mixture of brandy and hot coffee is a more likely source. . steak tartare. poire à la belle Hélène or a poached pear served with vanilla ice cream and decorated with chocolate sauce. and a brasserie was a brewery where one went primarily to drink beer. and baeckeoffe (a stew with thinly sliced peeled potatoes and a mixture of beef. Brasseries appeared during the Second Empire. Since the late nineteenth century many Parisian bistros and cafés have been run by bougnats (from charbonnier. Historically.120 Food Culture in France derive from the injunction to hurry (bystra) up the food that Russians in Paris spoke to waiters. comfortable. flammekeuche (a thin crust like that of a pizza topped with caramelized onion and bits of bacon). charbougna in the Auvergnat patois). The term bistro is now used throughout the country for a restaurant. bistros have been restaurants that serve alcohols and a relatively small selection of foods for one-course meals. or seared steak served with French fried potatoes on the side. and lamb). increasing in number after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the development of the train line linking Strasbourg to Paris. Many have a distinctly Germanic or Flemish flair. although a recent trend that blurs this characteristic is for very chic restaurants to call themselves bistros. a contemporary brasserie is a café or a restaurant that serves drinks. coal burner or porter. sole meunière. along with a limited menu. Bistros and restaurants have their own specialties or regional inflections. but standard popular items include such classics as oysters on the half-shell. pork. unpretentious atmosphere. There is a strong association to this term with a warm.

in the north and west of France. In the notoriously abysmal conditions of the First World War. Canned and jarred goods had met with a largely negative reaction throughout the nineteenth century. Nice. Today. made fashionable other locations such as Cannes. Buffets de la gare and cafés de la gare became fixtures in train stations. rice. The turn of the century witnessed the spectacular collaborations between chef Auguste Escoffier and the enterprising Swiss hotelier César Ritz. The new modes of transportation. and Biarritz. During the lengthy Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century. however. Paris still had the lion’s share of elegant dining spots. Restaurants serving regional specialties and located far from the capital came into fashion. eggs.3 Now the . in the countryside and in smaller towns as well as in the cities. Vivandiers. The diet varied with geography and the circumstances of the hosts who “offered” them bed and board. appeared in the eighteenth century. adding ratatouilles (which in this context signified meat stews or ragoûts. beans. or specialized army cooks. highend restaurants appeared in the grand hotels. The late sixteenth century saw the organization of internal units whose task was specifically to provision troops. The pressing need to provision troops constantly on the move under Napoleon was answered by Nicolas Appert’s development of sterile jarring techniques. Most soldiers subsisted primarily on soup and had to share mess kits. soldiers ate meat. and soup through the labyrinth of trenches directly to the front line. common soldiers in addition to mercenaries became more numerous in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. the daily experience of eating outside the home has taken place in a collective setting such as an army mess hall or a cafeteria in school or at work. and bread. both private and military cooks and suppliers carried bread. Where waging war had long been the prerogative of the aristocracy. MESS HALLS AND CAFETERIAS For many. substituting fish (including stockfisch). where Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie regularly wintered. good restaurants and the finest restaurants gastronomiques or restaurants gourmands are to be found all over the country. not vegetable stew) a couple of times each week. crusaders were quartered in the towns on their routes. military doctors intervened. During the belle époque and by the start of the twentieth century.Eating Out 121 The rise of trains and then automobiles encouraged travel. the growth of tourism. while sutlers tagged along behind to sell foodstuffs directly to soldiers. in fact a compulsory gesture. later perfected with cans. and more variations on the restaurant theme. During the Middle Ages. and dairy products on lean days. Eventually. wine.

This is due to the prestige of fine dining and commercial restaurants. Today.5 Through the end of the nineteenth century. rely more on cafeterias than any other nation in Europe. on the other. The reformist. Officers fared better than their troops. and the ideal of the family meal at home. Through the early years of the Third Republic (1870–1940). so that the student ate a home-cooked hot meal. cooking up miracles for French officers participating in the Franco-Prussian conflict of 1870. the best-fed pupils were often those who could afford to bring a gamelle (metal lunch-pail) from home. whether of gruel. however. presumably was martyred at the table. and 26 percent at hospitals and services related to hospitals. with much attention paid to fast days including the long month of Lent and every Friday. food in schools varied greatly. students were deprived of the morning meal. in contrast with the physically extenuating activities of the laborer. For centuries. The French. As a result of the imposed silence and the exigencies of keeping one’s thoughts to sacred themes. and bread. soup. about 56 percent of meals taken outside the home are taken in an institutional cafeteria. as there was little in the way of dietary standards or accountability. to the detriment of the pupils’ palettes and stomachs. progressive principles took their effects . 34 percent at schools. as a young man Auguste Escoffier began his career in the field. but rather to keep silent throughout the meal while listening to a theological reading. however.4 Most often school meals were vegetable soups. It is easy to overlook the central role that cantines—cafeterias in collective settings—have played in daily life for the last century. Eating out as a student has ever been a conundrum: one is poor and always hungry. In some medieval collèges. People often have the mistaken impression that taking a meal in a cafeteria is somehow an exceptional practice.6 The development of cafeterias owes to notions of equality traceable to the Revolution of 1789 and to the sense of secular social mission and conception of the public good that was cultivated during the Third and Fourth Republics. Communication was reduced to a sign language specific to the table. for instance to request the bread. This could be placed on the stove for a few minutes at mid-day. the student’s life was sedentary. or stew. not to mention intellectual exchange. such as cabbage. Even in a wealthy school.122 Food Culture in France appearance of a jar of jam or a can of sardines boosted the morale of the beleaguered troops. with 40 percent of those meals at businesses. conviviality. the collèges instituted tables for 16 or 25 students in a salle commune. educational institutions were run by the Church. One was not to cultivate the art of conversation. on the one hand. the bursar might divert meal allowances to other purposes. During the sixteenth century.

a student must demonstrate the need for a school lunch with formal attestations that his or her parents work or are seeking work and are thus unavailable at mid-day to provide lunch at home. If fewer than 25 employees wished to eat at work. Cafeterias took on a new importance in reestablishing the nation’s health and by extension its economic vitality. their use peaked in the late 1970s and has been declining. was conceived as social intervention on a national scale. Today. companies that did not run cafeterias began to offer meal vouchers for use in commercial restaurants. Cooperative food stores for workers appeared in the late 1830s. Ironically. Schools had to balance issues of cost and efficiency with the wish to highlight typical regional dishes and the need to serve balanced and nutritious meals. This automatically excluded at least one cafeteria meal from many schedules. Measuring in terms of the percentage of total meals taken in cafeterias. In 1881. most students take the midday meal at school. and this savings is passed on to workers. The cafeterias that now serve lunch in nearly every sizeable business grew out of the development of labor unions and codes of workers’ rights. The public schools are administered by municipalities. then. The cafeteria. The Aubry Law of 1998 reduced the workweek to a maximum of 35 hours for private companies having more than 20 employees. however. however.7 Not until 1913. Beginning in 1967. the practice of bringing food to school from home declined. their . With the allocation of school budgets for cafeterias came strong associations with local politics. as an alternative benefit. it became a matter of necessity for students and workers to eat lunch at school or work. such that companies may view maintaining cafeterias as an unnecessary expense. As nonprofits. After the Second World War and the associated problems of malnutrition. the Ferry Law mandated that a public school education be made available to all children.Eating Out 123 in both schools and business settings. cafeterias are subject to lower levels of the TVA or taxe à la valeur ajoutée (VAT or value added tax) than applies to restaurants. did a law decree that companies having at least 25 employees who wished to eat at work must provide an eating area. the government encouraged schools to provide warm meals to needy students during the cold months of the school year. there must at least be a designated space for doing so. albeit slowly. liberal or capitalist economic practices have replaced some socialist and protectionist ones. As cafeterias became common. As a practical proviso. and workers’ cooperative restaurants organized by trade date to 1848. Cafeterias originated to provide a benefit to workers. Since the 1980s. Thereafter an emendation required that this location be outfitted for reheating food.

in the form of a star to indicate a good table. A single star indicates une très bonne table. resulting in less use of military cafeterias. a “very good” table in the elite category. Two stars go to a restaurant that vaut le détour (is “worth the detour”) off of the main highway. based in Clermont-Ferrand. Gastronomic tourism was now established as a serious undertaking. and also by providing branded items for companies. but mandatory conscription ended in 1997.124 Food Culture in France presence on a company campus or in an office is sometimes now felt as a constraint. the large companies are evolving by catering for sports matches and tournaments. EATING OUT AND THE CULINARY HERITAGE Interest in food as connected with particularities of place took on an especially clear definition in the twentieth century. In 1926. The year of army service used to be obligatory for young men finishing their secondary education. and guidebooks such as the Guide Joanne circulated widely in the nineteenth century. The coveted third star indicates a menu of such quality that the restaurant is a worthy travel destination all by itself. with important consequences for eating out. the novelist Marcel Rouff and journalist and food writer Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland) assembled the Tour de France Gastronomique published in 24 volumes between 1921 and 1928. of laurels for restaurants. In 1900. established a new Guide pour les chauffeurs et les vélocipédistes (Guide for Drivers and Cyclists) to promote the automobile tourism that would increase their profits.and eighteenth-century almanacs that listed boutiques and then restaurants. and there was much to know about the culinary subcultures within the country. a rating system for restaurants was introduced. The further distinctions of two and three stars appeared in the early 1930s. The rankings of the Guide Michelin (today called the Guide Rouge) are defined relative to the road. Published travel accounts had been popular since the eighteenth century. the tire company Michelin. The title echoes that of the Tour de France bicycle race established in the late nineteenth century. if now also deeply controversial. Following seventeenth. the Guide Michelin soon came to mention food and wine specialties for each region. and the comprehensive scope is suggestive. and the first descriptive restaurant guide published in the early nineteenth century. In response. for eating in the cafeteria keeps employees in the workplace and discourages lingering over lunch in a leisurely manner. The Michelin stars are still the most widely recognized. for festivals or holidays having parades and other outdoor events. Concurrent to the establishment of the Michelin rating system. A few years later and with a different .

then. The state commissioned the publication of the Inventaire culinaire du patrimoine de la France (1992–1996). One should. as part of the economic and cultural rebuilding that followed the Second World War. note the fascination and bankability of the varied food and food customs of the entire country. His charge was to promote the héritage or patrimoine culturel (national cultural heritage). The idea was to expose as many individuals as possible to the riches of French culture and to ensure the creation of artistic and intellectual works that would continue to enrich it. To avoid the usual Parisian bias. a set of 22 volumes that take “culinary inventory” of the country by region.”8 During the next decade. as well as the sense of history. Curnonsky published another work on the same topic entitled the Trésor gastronomique de la France (1933). in short. Again. food and food mores increasingly became the focus of legislation that sought to institutionalize cultural practice. invests in the institutionalization of the culinary heritage and in the promotion of quality. capital. or principle worth preserving (here. and a place where riches are kept. printed roadmaps and posted signs on highways throughout the country indicate national Sites remarquables du goût (Taste Sites Worthy of Note) as attractions for travelers and tourists. as in the Plat du terroir (Terroir Dishes) initiative begun in 1985. an undiscovered or unexpected windfall (as in hidden treasure). the Malraux Law of 1962 was further designed to encourage cultural activity across the nation. Underpinning the ministry and legislation was the deep respect for the past.Eating Out 125 collaborator (Augustin Croze). and the conviction that government intervention is necessary to foster and protect culture. During the second half of the twentieth century. The document proclaimed the goal to acquaint not only visitors and foreigners but also French citizens themselves—who may be ignorant of their own culture—with aspects of the patrimoine and specifically with “the varied palette of our tables. These attitudes would soon be specifically extended to food culture. In the 1950s. Trésor means an investment. and it may be said to pursue a . the gastronomic “treasury”). Since 1993. The state. whether French or foreign nationals. an initiative sponsored jointly by the state and various corporations began bringing chefs into schools for the annual fall Semaine du goût (Week of Taste) that gives children a practical course under professional supervision in eating traditional foods. Charles de Gaulle appointed the novelist and diplomat André Malraux to head a new Ministère des affaires culturelles (Ministry of Cultural Affairs). The charter for this undertaking noted the “incomparable” richness of France’s culinary cultures. the title is telling. a strong sense of appréciation or understanding combined with enjoyment.

laws to protect health and safety. notoriously. or identifying elements of culture as part of the heritage and then fulfilling the corresponding obligations to preserve them. authenticity in the culinary domain has become a more than usually vexed question. or the sense of being compelled to live in a museum. to serve commercial and political interests. With trenchant wit and insight. the sociologist Claude Fischler has named the alternative the OCNI: objet comestible non identifié or Unidentified Comestible Object. Specialty producers such as fine wine makers have long appreciated and often instigated the demand for distinguishing marks of authenticity.9 By this is meant the generic. For others. yet has a clear resonance. These practices are also carefully cultivated. and innovation. and policies of agricultural protectionism. There is great sympathy for this gesture. the tourist and export trades are notable beneficiaries. The appreciation for local. the effort to identify foodstuffs and thus to render transparent the links in the food chain responds to the general sense that it is better to know exactly what one is eating. During the 1990s. and of the patrimoine culinaire derive from real social practices and attitudes whose cultivation and preservation enrich the texture of daily life. a site of culture if not historical preservation. or regional restaurant reifies and affirms one’s very Frenchness. the prevailing response is pride in the culture. in the push and pull of daily life. . of terroir. The notions of regional cuisine and local specialty. It does so through specific legislation that complements regulation against fraud. heavily commercialized. the habitual practices and the self-consciously elaborated ones overlap and become closely intertwined. Inevitably. and in a few cases invented. a feeling of alienation results. traditional. The process of patrimonialisation. These chefs called for a return to terroir and presumably to some sort of ideal state of absolute Frenchness. identifiable. and AOC products can take extreme forms.126 Food Culture in France gastronomic and culinary policy. Thanks to careful packaging and marketing. creativity. As a result. by association. with other nations in the European Union and beyond. Chefs in elite restaurants (restaurants gastronomiques) may make special efforts to incorporate local and AOC items into their menus. useful for business. a sense of belonging and participation. The position is exaggerated. For many people. a group of prominent chefs published a manifesto protesting “alien” and “exotic” combinations of flavors and foods. highly processed “product” with no visible history or origin. The restaurant is. Eating dinner in a typical. that passes for food. Beyond the appreciation for what is fresh. today the source of ongoing tension within the country and. can be felt to inhibit freedom.

Those traveling for business or having a long daily commute cannot eat at home. Yet close friendships require time to develop. In a country where eating well is a passion shared by so many. The motivations lie elsewhere.Eating Out 127 RESTAURANT RHYMES AND REASONS Few people today go out to eat because they lack facilities to cook at home. one may return repeatedly to a restaurant to enjoy a favorite création de la maison (house specialty) or to test the latest invention of a particular chef. Because of the longstanding customs of eating out and the pervasive culture of socializing outside the home. Busy work schedules make the option of being served dinner at the end of the day attractive. Restaurants and cafés are moreover much appreciated as settings for social interaction. Eating out with a new acquaintance or a friend allows social bonds to deepen in a neutral yet comfortable and inviting setting. it is easy to find relatively inexpensive A typical Parisian brasserie with café-style tables for sitting outside. Sampling a cuisine from another nation allows one to traverse continents simply by walking down the street. Eating dinner weekly at a neighborhood bistro provides a sense of continuity and social connectedness. private space. and the home is viewed as an intimate. Gregariousness and conviviality are characteristic social traits. Courtesy of Arnold Matthews. .

Whether in a fancy restaurant or in a local café or bistro. enjoy the pauses between courses. and café. It is considered sociable to all drink the same thing and egotistical not to follow the general wishes of the group. so that the meal progresses according to a similar rhythm for everybody at the table. This is partially a matter of practicality. items from within the three-course menu choices). it is common to order what is referred to as a menu or formule. It is assumed that people will take their time to eat. and continue talking after the meal. Within families or groups of friends. and most bistros and brasseries serve full meals. Legally. the degree of involvement of personnel in food preparation and service. the various establishments may serve both food and alcoholic beverages. When one is ready to leave the restaurant. diamond-shaped label reading tabac that is stuck on the window) is licensed to serve as a tobacconist and sells cigarettes. one goes to a “restaurant” to eat a full meal at noon or in the evening. some cafés serve food. A café-tabac marked with the carrotte (a red. although the beverage will more likely be a glass of wine or a beer. After the meal. this is also possible in some bistros and brasseries. serving coffee and drinks between and after meals. Similarly. many also serve beer and a selection of alcohols. These are often used interchangeably. people discuss what they are thinking of ordering and from which menu they will choose. bars are not particularly central to social . Of course. Especially in smaller restaurants. restaurants must register the types of items to be served. It is considered courteous to order a similar sequence as one’s dinner companions (i. A selection of dishes is offered for each of two or three courses at a fixed price for the full meal. when one goes out. it is only in a café that one may order as little as a coffee (i. However. one requests the check from the waiter. BARS AND WINE BARS Restaurants and most cafés serve wine. This would be viewed as quite rude.e. there is discussion as to the choice of wine. To serve food. the sale of beverages is regulated by licenses that specify a maximum allowed alcohol content per beverage. On the other hand. l’addition (the check) is not brought to the table right away. bistro. eating out has rituals all its own.128 Food Culture in France places where one can eat a good meal in pleasant surroundings. A café-restaurant stays open all day and perhaps into the late evening. brasserie. and so on. Currently the most common terms for eating and drinking establishments are restaurant. the sum is usually less than an à la carte total.. In practice. As a result.e.. only a beverage) and do so between meals. With the appropriate licenses.

Today. and alcohols during the evening hours. bars that are so called (un bar) serving only wine. The complement for tea is a pastry. Bars enjoyed a surge in popularity at the end of the nineteenth century. and the ambience is fairly sophisticated. Among tea drinkers there is much admiration for the variety of Asian and Indian teas. Much like the specialized brasseries that serve many varieties of beer. Most tea shops have the distinctively French touch of the exquisite. for the austere ritual elegance of Japanese customs of taking tea. the word bar owes its derivation to the French term (une barre de comptoir) for the foot-rest close to the floor near a counter where one stands to take a drink or to eat. Dipping one in a fragrant glass of lime (linden) tea. Macaroons are well liked. by the highly educated. as are madeleines. and for the British tradition of high tea. a new type of bar à vin or wine bar is in vogue. Some cafés that remain open late at night function then as bars de nuit and tend to serve almost exclusively wine. or one of the more refined forms of cookie. The focus here is on tasting wine. Madeleines • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder • pinch salt . TEA SHOPS Salons de thé (tea rooms) are few in number but enjoy a faithful clientele. the wine bar offers a broad selection of bottles and is designed for sampling good wines. which may be served in small portions in the style of Spanish tapas or Turkish mezes. in large hotels. choosing from a list of different kinds of leaves. beer. and by the health-conscious or those seeking to avoid the larger amounts of caffeine in coffee. a slice of tart. 1913–1927). the author Marcel Proust was overwhelmed with strong memories of his childhood and proceeded to write the lengthy semiautobiographical novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Time Past.Eating Out 129 life for most people. the tea cakes having a scallop shape and that launched thousands of words. some plain black teas may be flavored from the addition of bergamot oil or extract of violet or rose. more women than men drink tea. but they declined as an institution during the Vichy period. Nonetheless. and drinks can be found in discos or nightclubs. With the recent fashion for drinking high-quality wines. tea is drunk by a few anglophiles. One orders a small pot of tea. takes a secondary role as an accompaniment to the wine. Food. beer. Today. when alcohol was temporarily deregulated. A selection of tisanes or herbal infusions is usually available as well. and sometimes in large restaurants.

Changes in eating habits as a result of dietary concerns and issues of convenience. then stir in the melted butter. It ranks just behind steak-frites (steak and French fried potatoes) and gigot d’agneau (roast leg of lamb) as a familiar. Preheat the oven to 350° F. melted and allowed to cool Note: Madeleines are baked in special forms that give them their distinctive shape. With additional melted butter. Clearly. the sense of the exotic varies according to perspective. traditional regional . familiar since the mid-twentieth century through the presence of immigrants from former colonies. make the term even more confusing. Add the lemon zest. Sift together the flour. At present. and set aside. A specialist in the sociology and anthropology of consumption points out that for some. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the fat part of the little cakes comes clean. assimilation has also worked in the other direction or not at all. whether of French or other national origin. Spoon in the batter. however. The use of these terms reflects the longstanding expectation that integration into French society is effected through assimilation into the culture. North African couscous. gradually add the granulated sugar. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until they are fluffy and turn a pale. lemony yellow. Makes about 3 dozen. filling each shell to two-thirds full. While continuing to beat the eggs. lightly brush the madeleine pans. cooking. “EXOTIC” RESTAURANTS AND GLOBAL CUISINES The terms exotique (exotic) and sometimes éthnique (ethnic) are used for any kind of food. reliable favorite. is not typically referred to as exotique. Indeed. and familiarity with a variety of foods as a result of travel and the global market. the large population of citizens and residents whose national or ethnic origins are not French makes the use of a term such as exotique unclear. and salt.130 • • • • Food Culture in France 3 large eggs 2/3 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter. Remove the cookies from the pans. or restaurant cuisine that is not traditionally French. Add the vanilla. Gradually fold in the flour mixture. and let them cool on a wire rack. Continue beating until the mixture doubles in volume. baking powder. and they are often applied to foreign cuisines associated with immigrants. couscous is perceived as an everyday food.

Although the complexity. Recently. to which most French eaters are not accustomed. the use of industrially prepared ingredients. and dessert. sophistication. in the Turkish restaurants. The establishment of Algerian. Restaurants serving cuisines from outside the French territory are reasonably popular. having open counters that double as kebab and sandwich stands. British or Irish pubs and Tex-Mex restaurants can be found in the large cities and in some university towns. in particular Columbia and Brazil. and also by populations from Congo. Typical. Italian restaurants in France tend to specialize in pasta dishes and to serve individual. These are working-class cafés operated and frequented by immigrants from Senegal. Indian restaurants and Japanese restaurants that mainly serve sushi rather than cooked dishes are found in the large cities. by and large undistinguished. Moroccan. the nuances of Ottoman cuisine are hardly in evidence. These establishments are distinguished by a formulaic list of choices. and Mauritania who came to France starting in the 1960s and 1970s. Cameroon. and the practice . Varieties of North African restaurants and tea houses are relatively common and sometimes quite refined. because they are not an accustomed part of the daily diet. thin-crusted pizzas taken as a main course dish. as well as cities. Greek and Turkish restaurants are often informal. Tunisian. variety. and rich history of the Chinese regional and provincial cuisines are comparable to those of France. Mali. Lebanese. Thai restaurants are a relatively new addition and usually have carefully annotated menus to warn against spicy dishes. if practically unknown beyond the reaches of the urban working-class neighborhoods where they are found. and Burkina. this is not apparent in the restaurants. Chinese restaurants are quite familiar in suburban areas and small towns. to include Tibetan food and the cuisines of South American nations. They usually serve Cantonese and Hong Kong–style foods and organize menus according to the French sequence of entrée. are cafés sahéliens. and Vietnamese restaurants date to the independence of the respective colonies and protectorates.10 It is useful to remember that foods such as tomatoes and potatoes that are now typical and essential in the regional cuisines are not native to French territory or even to Europe.Eating Out 131 dishes such as cassoulet or cuisses de grenouilles (frogs’ legs) are quite exotic. new imports have further expanded the choices especially in the larger cities.11 FAST-FOOD AND RESTAURANT CHAINS The rapid expansion of fast-food and chain restaurants began in the 1960s. plat.

with some adjustments to the menu including the availability of wine and beer. and the service is efficient. and assembly.14 but one that has French imitators such as Speed Rabbit Pizza. Today. Ingredients have been industrially processed and prepared. and there were no real cooks. they undergo final stages of preparation. three-course meals with traditional menus. introduced by the American chains. from raw ingredients). on the principle that one will want to eat a decent meal as a break from a long trip. the restaurants were not popular. such as Quick and Flunch. these eating establishments flourish. founder of the hospitality firm now called Accor. is a late-blooming phenomenon. Despite the culture of gastronomy and despite widely publicized and occasionally violent protests against the fast food restaurants. The dishes are based on preassembled ingredients. the cooking processes are broken down into simple procedures that are standardized and designed for maximum efficiency. As of 1998.132 Food Culture in France of a highly rationalized cuisine d’assemblage (“assembly cooking” rather than preparing food from scratch. The impact and initial strangeness of the phenomenon to French eaters can be measured in Claude Zidi’s film L’Aile ou la cuisse (1976). enjoy mixed success. as the service was brusque and impersonal or else one had to serve oneself at a counter. fast food restaurants are ubiquitous. American chains including McDonald’s began opening stores in France in the early 1970s. In the restaurant. There are numerous French chains and fast food restaurants. The goal is to create products of consistent quality and that vary as little as possible from one outlet or franchise to the next. The largest share of the market is divided between two American concerns.12 One researcher points out that this may be in part precisely because the fast-food chain restaurants allow one to flaunt conventions of good taste and eating well. Restaurants dating to the 1960s such as the Courtepaille chain found in roadside service areas on the national highways serve full. chains represented 2. or pizzeria chains. Initially. . but accounted for 20 percent of sales. cooking (or heating). a parody of the industrialist Jacques Borel. Fast-food pizza. the success of individual franchises varies by region and adaptation to the local population. freeze-dried.13 The use of industrially prepared foods in cuisine d’assemblage has penetrated to many traditional commercial restaurants and has led to hybrids. with just under one for every eight traditional cafés or restaurants. Pizza Hut and Dominos. and vacuum packed. Following the principles borrowed from the United States of Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford.5 percent of commercial restaurants. Livraison à domicile (delivery) for pizza.

whether in a cafeteria. a term coined by two journalists in 1999. or a fast food restaurant. The noun is manufactured from the English words “food” and “feeling. quality. in an eating culture that has long privileged tradition. and norms. a small but growing number of restaurants have turned to creating establishments whose primary attraction is a nontraditional ambience of one sort or another. a fine dining establishment. A degree of standardization is essential in nearly any professional kitchen.Eating Out 133 Readying cooked carrots and peas for service. Nova magazine has been publishing a guide to fooding. Notable is the effort to translate the primary appeal of the new establishments to one’s individual sensations. LE FOODING AND NOVELTY RESTAURANTS The semiologist and astute interpreter of culture Roland Barthes observed that food can be a situation or an event. As if taking Barthes’s observation for advice. to one’s personal experience and reactions. For the last few years.” The awkwardness of the word well conveys the extremely unusual nature of these restaurants. to one’s emotional . Courtesy of Philippe Bornier.

Its categories include restaus that are gay. adding an extra dimension of enjoyment. everyday meal a festive feeling. during the summer. EATING OUTSIDE The French love to eat outdoors. Le fooding appeals in particular to younger people open to seeking a social experience or the experience of a place for its own sake. or perhaps some variety of fusion food. Other portable picnic foods are made in advance or bought already prepared. as is camping. especially in the middle and upper classes. Rather. Cooking outside usually involves grilling or barbecuing fresh sausages and merguez. Extensive coordination and planning are required to unite large numbers of family members and friends in natural locations considered to be beautiful and offering good air to breathe and an attractive view to admire. a shady glade. The aristocratic classes. A picnic may be an impromptu lunch consisting of no more than a jambon-beurre (slice of ham in buttered baguette) eaten outdoors. An unobstructed view of the sky and a fresh breeze on the face are thought to enhance the meal. as much as eating the food. or a landscaped garden. on the other hand. near a river. such as in the mountains. eating outside or in an attractive natural setting is a matter of choice. Terrace or courtyard tables are selling points for restaurants and cafés during mild weather. or that serve a “world food” cuisine. . as an inexpensive mode of taking a vacation. In the preindustrial era. picnics in parks are popular. Favorites include roasted or rotisserie chickens. The interest here is ambience and novelty. In the seventeenth century. The guide to fooding does not rate for price and quality according to the recognized grids of classical cuisine and mid–twentieth century nouvelle cuisine. workers such as agricultural laborers often had to eat outdoors. Today.134 Food Culture in France state. could make a party by having tables set up in a meadow. picnics may be quite elaborate affairs. or on the ocean.15 Now. Eating outside is felt to offer a break from the routine and doing so gives even a simple. People who have gardens or terraces set up tables even in tiny spaces. Alternatively. it lists nontraditional restaurants in categories that have more to do with personal identity or lifestyle. manger en pique-nique (to eat picnic style) meant pooling money to share the expense of an improvised meal. bio-végét (biologique-végétarien or organic and vegetarian). the association with an outdoor meal stabilized only in the mid-twentieth century. Outdoor meals have a special appeal given that the contemporary lifestyle is primarily urban and that jobs keep people indoors and relatively sedentary. for the pleasure of being able to manger au dehors (eat outside).

47. and Marc Renard. or cherries. regard des sourds (Nantes: Siloë. juice.. Martin Breugel. apricots. baskets. trans. 7. Nostalgic Cooks: Another French Paradox. 1810–1920. 4. Manger au Moyen Âge (Paris: Hachette. flats of summer fruits in season such as peaches. Sylvie-Anne Mériot. 5.” Le Monde (March 9. 2002). with the popular option of getting the fries right in the sandwich. and Dominique Desjeux.Eating Out 135 hard sausages to be sliced and eaten with chunks of bread. eds. L’Esprit des lieux (Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble. heavily frequented Mediterranean beaches. 209. Les Ouvriers de Paris au XIXe siècle (Paris: Christian. 8.” Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine (January-March 1997): 40–67. vendors stroll up and down musically chanting the wares they carry on flat trays: boissons fraîches (cool drinks. one can usually buy frites and meat kebabs served in a piece of baguette as a sandwich. and soda). Julia Csergo. During the summer on the hot. “La constitution de la spécialité gastronomique comme objet patrimonial en France. 10. Alimentations contemporaines (Paris: L’Harmattan. 2005). Trevor Cox and Chanelle Paul (Leiden and Boston: Brill. 281–306 in Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui. 9.” pp. Aude de Saint-Loup. 2002). usually bottles of mineral water. These items will be carefully packed and carried to the ideal spot in backpacks. Gestes des moines. bags. 115–16. and beignets or round jam-filled doughnuts covered with glinting granulated sugar. Sandrine Blanchard.. NOTES 1. Mériot.” The New York Times (September 8. and bottles of wine and mineral water. Fabrice Laroulandière. There are also vendors for choux-choux or peanuts made crunchy with a praline coating. 6. eds. Claude Fischler. 1997). 1990). Grange and Dominique Poulot. 158. and coolers. “L’exotique est-il quotidien? Dynamiques de l’exotique et générations. . 2. L’Homnivore (Paris: Odile Jacob. 1997). fin XVIIIe-XXe siècle. glaces (ice cream). café chaud (hot coffee). thé à la menthe (mint tea).” pp. 3. 36. “‘Un sacrifice de plus à demander au soldat:’ L’armée et l’introduction de la boîte de conserve dans l’alimentation française. “The Ash May Finally Be Falling from the Gauloise. Yves Delaporte. Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui. Elise Palomares. “Les Français consomment moins d’alcool et de tabac. From stands set up at the edge of the beach. 1997).” Revue historique 596 (October-December 1995): 260–83 and “Du temps annuel au temps quotidien: la conserve appertisée à la conquête du marché. Bruno Laurioux. 2006). 183–93 in Daniel J. 2006) and John Tagliabue.

and Desjeux. April 1999). 13. 14.. “The Picnic in Nineteenth-Century France. Palomares. 2. Julia Csergo.” pp. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. “Esquisse de la fonction sociale de McDonald’s à partir d’une étude éthnographique. “Étude chaînes 1998” (Paris: GIRA-SIC Conseil. Boutboul and A. . Palomares. and Desjeux. 15.” pp. Lacourtiade. and Desjeux. 83–121 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. 123–41 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. Pascal Hug. “Cafés sahéliens de Paris: Stratégies de ‘gestions du ventre’ dans un espace de manducation. 12. eds. Sylvia Sanchez.’ ” pp. 2003). 145–71 in Garabuau-Moussaoui.136 Food Culture in France 11.” pp. B. 139–59 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. Olivier Badot. Palomares. “ ‘La pizza dans le pays des autres.

such as Christmas (December 24–25). of course. but it is also recognized that participation in shared festivities socializes children. and ensures the integration of individuals into communities. there is a strong emphasis on celebrating personal days such as birthdays. on a daily basis. These holidays are now feasts. Parties. observed on December 24 with the next day a holiday . A holiday atmosphere certainly prevails for the Sunday lunch with family and at the dinner party given on a Friday or Saturday evening for a few close friends. That said. a few are secular commemorations such as Bastille Day (July 14). The rest. sustains family relationships. RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS The holidays having a religious origin and that are observed by the greatest number of people in France derive from the Catholic liturgical calendar. most people today celebrate holidays such as Noël (Christmas). interest. and enjoyment that so many people bring every day to cooking and eating bring a bit of holiday reverence and revelry to nearly any meal. are simply fun. This is typical savoir-vivre (knowing how to live well) applied at the table. and most people celebrate them in a secular fashion. Of the 11 days mandated as federal holidays. Within families and circles of friends.6 Special Occasions The care. Since the 1990s a trend to revive traditional agricultural and regional celebrations has served to affirm local identity and preserve the sense of history. derive from Catholic religious observances historically connected with fasting.

is now eaten throughout the year. Almost nothing is more typical than drinking sparkling wine for festive occasions. stockfisch (dried cod) for modest tables. from réveiller. although the tradition is of recent vintage. People refer to the Christmas Eve meal as le gros souper (the big dinner). and Champagne accompanies dessert. and shrimp set out for the first course of the Christmas meal. to wake up) with fish. . Good wines are saved for the occasion. One broke the fast at the réveillon (late meal after mass. in a secular fashion. or turbot for the wealthy were typical. clams. especially salmon. and the former fasts have become secular feasts. but no meat. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. Roasted turkey stuffed with chestnuts is a standard main course.138 Food Culture in France from work. vegetables. December 24 was a fasting day in the Catholic calendar. Oysters and foie gras are favorite appetizers. baked or roasted salmon. From the ecclesiastical requirement for a lean meal. as well as the festive foods and gifts. and grains. who like the sapin or tree decorated with lights that is mounted in the living room. Through the Platters of raw oysters and steamed mussels. Fish. Abstinence from all food was in principle required until after the midnight mass. The old lean dishes are thus replaced on the holiday table by festive foods that suggest prosperity but are now within reach of many wallets. The family celebration is a treat much anticipated by children. and because of seasonal availability.

then frosted with chocolate butter-cream. The adventurous make their own bûches. Children put out their shoes near a fireplace or a crèche (nativity scene) in the hopes that they will be filled with gifts. and oranges and nuts. cloves. and regional specialties such as the Germanic Christollen (Stollen)—a dry. on December 6) has been somewhat eclipsed. and cinnamon. marzipan confections. and . For this reason the old tradition of giving gifts to children for la Saint-Nicolas (the feast of St. and a few holly leaves imaginatively transform the cake into a log plucked from the woods. producing carbon dioxide. but it is common to order one from a pâtissier. as well as alcohol. During the nineteenth century. aïoli (garlicky mayonnaise) or anchoïade (anchovies pounded with bread crumbs. The cake for the bûche starts as a flat rectangle made from a light batter containing eggs but little or no butter. whose aptitude as a vintner is mythical) but was rather the result of a happy accident in wine-making.Special Occasions 139 end of the eighteenth century. Snails. Since the late nineteenth century. Other winter desserts that appear around Christmas and New Year’s are chocolate truffles. Nicholas’s Day the traditional gifts were pains d’épices or spice bread flavored with honey. and children now expect toys. Sparkling wines can be made wherever wine grapes are grown. In the spring. In Provence. Christmas is heavily commercialized. As in the United States. salt cod. saving only cake and wine for the réveillon after mass. bicycles. sparkling wine was rare and drunk by the very wealthy. buttery yeasted cake studded with candied fruits and decorated with powdered sugar eaten in Alsace—and Spéculoos (spice cookies of Flemish origin) common in Picardie and Pas-de-Calais. a sprinkling of powdered sugar to suggest snow. the Christmas meal finishes with a bûche de Noël or cake in the shape of the fruit-wood Yule log that was placed on the fire as a symbol of plenty. as presents. chemical changes resumed with warm weather. but the greatest prestige attaches to the finest bottles from the Champagne region. fruit pastes. and lemon juice) with artichoke hearts. rolled. Clever marketing transformed Champagne into an essential feature of important celebrations. foods for Christmas Eve dinner may still reflect the regional staples and the custom of eating a repas maigre or meatless lean meal. For St. Chocolate shavings resembling tree bark. electronic games. The carbonation was not sought (nor added by the monk Dom Perignon. patron saint of children. Nicholas. olive oil. baked meringue toadstools. and so on. careful cultivation and scientific modes of production made sparkling wines more plentiful. Those who do attend the midnight service on Christmas Eve often divide up the meal.1 Cold weather halted fermentation of the sugars before it was complete. The baked sponge is spread with a jam glaze.

water. slice it in half lengthwise and remove the green germ. aged Cantal. and water in a pot. or Parmesan Crush the garlic with your hand or with the side of a knife and peel it. lightly grilled or toasted • 3/4 cup of grated hard cheese such as Gruyère. Turn off the heat. In the bottom of a soup tureen or large serving bowl. Garlic Soup (Aïgo-boulido) • 8 cloves garlic • 5 cups water • 1 sprig fresh sage • 1 bay leaf • 4 tablespoons olive oil • salt • 3 very fresh egg yolks • pepper • 4 slices of bread. just to mix. The meal often begins with a simple. Pour a ladleful of the boiled broth and garlic mixture onto the eggs and whisk together. The soup is also recommended as a cure-all for colds and aches and as a soothing restorative in case of gastronomic excess or hangover at any time of year. To serve. bay leaf. Divide the cheese among the four bowls. Either vin cuit (wine with macerated fruit such as oranges) or chilled sweet wine accompanies the selection of desserts: fresh fruits such as oranges. . Grind fresh black pepper to taste onto the soup. flavorful aïgo-boulido (Occitan for “boiled water. Bring the mixture to the boil. thought to symbolize the 12 months of the year plus the petit mois (little month) composed of the 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany. tangerines. Ladle on the soup and serve piping hot.140 Food Culture in France winter vegetables including chard and cardoons figure on the Christmas table. and cook for 10 minutes. salt to taste. using the tip of a knife. Put the garlic. If the garlic is at all dry. Another explanation matches a dessert each to Christ and the 12 apostles. sprinkling it on top of the bread. sage. The Provençal Christmas meal concludes with 13 desserts. gently beat the egg yolks with a wooden spoon. place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each soup bowl.” actually a far more tasty garlic soup). Pour in the olive oil. or apples. then pour on the rest of the broth.

Place the bowl in a warm spot in your kitchen.Special Occasions 141 dried fruits and nuts such as raisins. Make a well in the center. Pompe de Noël) • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast • 1 cup lukewarm water • 5 cups bread flour • 1 teaspoon salt • 1/2 cup sugar • grated zest of 1 orange • 3 tablespoons orange flower water • 6 tablespoons olive oil In a medium-size mixing bowl. salt. With a pun it also literally means “oil pump. and walnuts. a lightly sweetened bread enriched with olive oil and flavored with orange flower water or anise. incorporating it gradually first from the center and then from the edge of the bowl.” a description that is not inaccurate. . A whole melon carefully candied in syrup over two weeks at the end of summer may appear as the crown jewel of the holiday sweet spread. sugar. and allow to rise for about 2 hours. Lightly flour a work surface. until doubled in volume. turn the dough out from the bowl. and pastries such as spinach tart made with olive oil or butter. confections such as candied chestnuts. up to 24 hours. until the mixture is fairly uniform. mix 3 cups flour. and the sponge from the previous day. Using a spatula or wooden spoon. sprinkle on a bit of additional flour. The name pompe à l’huile for the festive bread evokes the pomp and circumstance of the holiday celebration. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. gibassier. or a lightly sweetened chard tart. stir together the yeast and warm water. mix in 1 cup of the flour to make a smooth batter. sugar and lemon peel. and orange zest together in a large bowl. as necessary. and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smoothly elastic and no longer sticky. Using a wire whisk. As you knead. Christmas Bread (Pompe à l’huile. Let the sponge batter sit overnight. hazelnuts. stir the flour into the liquids. The next day. candied almonds. Place it back in the mixing bowl. if the dough is sticky. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. or fougasse. dates. and light and dark nougats with nuts. then pour in the orange flower water. An indispensable element is the plain pompe à l’huile. almonds. figs. olive oil. Form the kneaded dough into a ball.

A lightly sweetened. A fève (dried bean). thick almond custard is usually spread between two layers of puff paste. then turn it out of the bowl onto the work surface. use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. Lightly grease two baking sheets. Use your hands to flatten. Epiphany occasioned festival debauchery. The person whose piece of pastry contains the fève—referred to as such even if the object is not a bean—is crowned king or queen. the youngest child in the room gets to hide under the table and to ask the question: Who will be the king? The evening requires having a gilt cardboard couronne (crown) in reserve. Throughout January. whole almond. or porcelain trinket is tucked into the paste or dough before it is baked. As with most holidays. This is baked into a round disk or a ring whose center is filled with cherries or prunes. Use a clean razor blade or very thin. the galette can be a yeastleavened pain brioché or dough enriched with eggs and also butter. round disk. People eat several galettes through the course of the month with family groups and with friends. Épiphanie or la fête des Rois commemorates the manifestation (épiphanie) of the infant Jesus to the Magi. customs for Epiphany are now largely secular and family-oriented. If necessary. so that the disks are about 1/2-inch thick. then place the disks two by two on the sheets. sharp. Cover the breads with towels. Today. and pull the dough. . The simplest version is plain flat puff pastry glazed with egg. and divide it into four. they will sound hollow if you tap the bottom with your fingers. pointed knife to score the surface of the breads in a checkerboard pattern. To serve. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. bring the breads whole to the table and break off square chunks where they are scored. until golden brown and crusty. Near the winter solstice. It is a quiet family gathering or a good excuse to get together with friends for a more relaxed evening than the rigorous celebrations of the preceding couple of weeks. shaping each piece into a flat. Cut parallel lines into the dough about 1/4-inch deep and at intervals of 1 inch. Makes four loaves about 8 inches in diameter. which is in the shape of a crown. turn over. In the South. bakeries supply galette to the steady stream of buyers. January 6 is given as a holiday. When they are done. and leave for the final rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. then make perpendicular cuts. While the cake is being served.142 Food Culture in France Punch the dough down. Cool completely on wire racks before eating. Preheat the oven to 400° F. To mark the day people eat the galette des Rois or gâteau des Rois (“kings’ cake” or Twelfth Night pastry). and noisy bibbers chose a king from among their own numbers.

i. The commoner king and queen were an invented. spread with jam such as apricot or cherry. Carnival parades and processions were often quite elaborate. ending with mardi gras. and fowl against the fish and vegetables. Crêpes are traditional for la Chandeleur (Candlemas or Candle Festival) observed on February 2. Historically. 1225) has a mild version in a topsy-turvy carnival atmosphere. The dough is patted into large. For mardi gras (Fat or Shrove Tuesday). and the ritual battle between Carnaval and Carême—or standoff between the Fat and the Lean—was a big food fight pitting sausages. and crêpes are typical. shaped as their name suggests.e. people eat rich desserts made with milk and eggs. In rural areas. with the characters slinging rotten crab apples. so the cookies puff out while baking. sometimes violent play and the disguises for Carnival made free with the usual social order. For months beforehand.. almond shapes that are scored down the middle. and plenty of butter or oil. The crêpes are eaten rolled up with a bit of sugar.Special Occasions 143 Rich pancakes and pastries feature in the end-of-winter holidays that preceded the Lenten fast in the Catholic calendar. Carnival included the ludic selection of a king and queen who presided over a Feast of Fools. fat. people eat golden-brown butter cookies called navettes (boats). the last day before the start of Carême (Lent) on mercredi saint (Ash Wednesday). or filled with a purée of fresh fruit. February 2 was also the day for attempting to predict how long winter weather would continue. The celebration in Nice was especially famous. which was accompanied by showers of flower petals. festival aristocracy that mocked the exclusions based on bloodlines long key to privilege in the everyday world. pancakes. little ceremony outside of regular family meal customs marks the day. Social theorists and historians have observed that turning le monde à l’envers (the world upside-down) through festivals such as Carnival doubtless released tensions that might . Carnaval (from the Latin carnem levare. The medieval fable Aucassin et Nicolette (ca. people prepared floats and masks for the festive procession. Today.2 The wild. This was done by observing animals in their lairs. In the port city of Marseille. the candle was lighted at auspicious moments during the rest of year for good luck. not only rich foods but also an orgiastic period of revelry directly preceded Lent. large prairie mushrooms. people went to church to have a candle blessed. Beignets (doughnuts). In recollection of the presentation of Christ in the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary. and fresh cheeses. to see whether they showed any signs of emerging from hibernation. Through the mid-twentieth century. meats. enlever les viandes or to take away meats) lasted the weekend or entire week. bugnes or oreillettes (knotted or twisted strips of dough that are fried).

traditionally closed the harvest season and marked the end of agricultural work for the year. is celebrated with roast lamb. the 40 years of the reign of King David. and people set off noisy pétards (firecrackers) and light sparklers. Today. In today’s secular. and they enrich breads and cakes such as the rich pain de Pâques (Easter bread) from the Vendée called alise pacaude. blanquette d’agneau (white stew made with lamb). They also show just how big the blowout was. roasted or stewed kid goat. marking the resurrection of Christ and symbolized by a spring lamb. la fête de Saint-Sylvestre or New Year’s Eve is usually spent with friends. Carnival has declined to the status of a minor tourist attraction. with a thanksgiving meal of roast goose and new wine. chickens. with its paid holidays and personal celebrations. eating and drinking. and rabbits to suggest life and seasonal renewal. the federal holiday on the same day. After Carnival one was probably only too glad to withdraw into the asceticism of the sainte quarantaine or Carême (from the Latin quadragesima or fortieth day). NEW YEAR’S If Christmas and the winter religious holidays are spent with family. The réveillon (late meal) usually lasts at least until midnight. Hard boiled eggs are put in salads and baked whole in dishes finished in the oven. November 11. or. in the pictures of the Niç ois artist Gustav-Adolf Mossa suggest the months of careful preparation that went into Carnival. a ham. much less for the full 40 days. in the Old Testament. Children receive chocolates and candies in the shape of fish. when corks pop and people drink a glass of Champagne to bring in the New Year. Municipal feux d’artifices (fireworks) are common. a roast goose or turkey. la fête de l’Armistice commemorating the armistice of 1918. with many of the festive foods typical for Christmas: oysters. The period also resonates with the 40 days of the flood. on Corsica and in some southern cities. The extraordinary scenes of parades and costumes. Pâques (Easter). The meal is as elegant as possible. a roast beef. la Saint-Martin. and some eat fish on Ash Wednesday and on Lenten Fridays. However. is as likely to be in people’s thoughts. and so on. people enjoy the rich desserts on Fat Tuesday. The 40 lean days anticipating Easter recall Christ’s fast in the desert and struggle against diabolical temptation. democratic society. On the jour de l’An .144 Food Culture in France otherwise manifest in a much more destructive fashion. foie gras. eggs. eggs are mixed up into omelets. and few people observe the old Lenten dietary restrictions.

and so on. which can then be filled with cream. and close friends. the godparents. merchants. PERSONAL EVENTS Even among the large population of nonbelievers. January 1 is also the day for tipping mail carriers. In the early nineteenth century. flowers. but who are outside the close circles of family and friends. Now a pièce montée made out of puff pastry is an integral element to middle class and upper middle class celebrations. Carême insisted that all parts be edible. Even for the most complex design. friends exchange étrennes or little gifts to inaugurate the coming year. After the church ceremonies. but imaginative pâtissiers also make puff pastry swans. The Greeks and Romans ate honey-coated nuts. profiteroles or round pastry puffs filled with vanilla custard. a holiday from work. Today the pièce . such as an elegantly realized shady grotto or neoclassical façade. Distributing sachets of dragées (from the Greek tragêmata. understood as symbols of fecundity. The pastry tower is drizzled with caramel that hardens to a shiny gleam and adds texture contrast. who first trained as a pâtissier and was fascinated by architecture. found great play for his creativity in the pièce montée. sugar has been used to coat spices for comfits and nuts for dragées. The pièce montée or pastry “set piece” is a carefully constructed dessert designed to dazzle the eyes as well as the palate. cars. They are fairly costly and almost always ordered from a baker. can be traced to the aristocratic tables of the medieval and renaissance eras. Choux fourrés. the parents offer a festive lunch or dinner to family members. The festive pastry set pieces. Essential for both occasions and also for weddings are a pièce montée and dragées. and other people whom one sees throughout the year. along with sugar sculptures. the chef Marie-Antoine Carême. it is fairly common to observe the sacramental rituals of church christenings for babies and first communions for older children. The showy desserts—tours de force that required a large kitchen staff and luxury ingredients including sugar—were status symbols that accrued prestige to the host. The classic pastry set piece is the conical croquembouche (“crunches in the mouth”). The cone shape is always considered appropriate and attractive. Since the Renaissance. treated in his illustrated books Le pâtissier royal parisien (1815) and Le pâtissier pittoresque (1815 and 1854). are layered and stacked up (montés) into a tall pyramid. sweetmeats) or sugar-coated almonds as favors to guests at weddings and baptisms is a custom with ancient roots.Special Occasions 145 (New Year’s Day). Medieval apothecaries distributed honey-coated spices such as coriander and fennel as medicinal breath fresheners and aids to digestion.

as in the United States. Marriages. are today usually secular family occasions. roasted monkfish. In either case. Although most couples live together before marrying and have fully functioning households. even for a so-called menu champêtre (rustic or country menu). Apéritifs. Banquets. The couple chooses rings. Buffets. with the most common requests being new sets of plates. There are meetings with florists and caterers to plan the decorations and meals. boned and stuffed fowl such as Guinea hen or capon. Cocktails. A site for the party must be found and rented. Communions. and cutlery along with additions for the kitchen. plat (or sometimes two. with fish and then meat). Business Meals. glasses.” Courtesy of Janine Depoil. usually white or silver for a wedding or baptism. entrée. salad. lobster. Formal invitations must be printed and sent. A series of four or five or six courses includes potage. montée is often decorated with a few dragées. Wedding foods tend to be high-status items that are presented as elegantly as possible. Baptisms. but is on the scope of a banquet. Dessert is . middle class and upper middle class wedding parties are carefully choreographed affairs that may involve a weekend-long party and great expense. Anniversaries. Weddings. Inaugurations. people sign up for the listes de mariage (registry) to orchestrate the gifts that are given. also traditionally a religious sacrament. The wedding meal is designed according to the couples’ tastes. Menus often include foie gras.146 Food Culture in France Caterer Farnier’s shop window in Blanzy advertises cooking for “All Receptions: Family Meals. and cheese. The bride selects a gown.

For the family meal. The birthday cake is usually a plain cake that will appeal to children. parties to celebrate personal relationships assume many forms. crêpes garnished with an egg or piece of ham. the regular afternoon snack. and all bring a gift. a civil alliance available both to heterosexual and to homosexual couples. In addition to full-on weddings. when the majorité was lowered from 21.Special Occasions 147 the obligatory coupe de Champagne and spectacular pièce montée. who reciprocate by giving gifts. Some marry at the local town hall but forego the religious celebration and traditional wedding. The cake is brought to the table studded with lit candles that the birthday person tries to blow out in one great breath. perhaps with a romantic dinner out. BIRTHDAYS Before the 1950s. or croque-monsieur (hot ham sandwiches pressed flat in an iron) may be offered first. individuals quietly observed their name days according to the Catholic calendar with its commemorations of the deaths and ascensions of the various saints. to an evening party given at the home that already has been established. stuffed tomatoes. soft drinks are considered a great treat by children. Since 1999. Sparkling apple juice called champomi (from Champagne and pomme for “apple champagne”) is also popular. After a funeral. others marry through the PACS or pacte civil de solidarité. such as a white or chocolate cake with chocolate icing. the eighteenth . It is quite common for couples to live together without marrying and to start families. Since 1974. although some couples choose a gâteau à étages or layer cake. the bereaved family traditionally offers a collation or luncheon to their guests. Now the Anglo-Saxon custom of celebrating one’s own anniversaire or jour annniversaire (birthday) prevails. For children. Entertaining savories such as oeufs durs farcis (stuffed hard-cooked eggs). Adults give their own birthday parties. the favorite foods of the birthday person often figure on the menu. along with other children. and they are served for the exceptional occasion of the birthday. Avoided by many parents because of the sugar content. sometimes the parents decide to marry later on. from a gathering of friends and family at a favorite restaurant. Couples celebrate anniversaries with each other. and there is strong social pressure to stage parties for friends and family. About 30 percent of children are born outside of wedlock. but give large parties for important milestones such as the 25th and 50th anniversaries. Family members and the child’s godparents attend. afternoon parties announced with written invitations enlarge on the four o’clock goûter.

birthday marks the passage into adulthood. drive. The right to purchase alcohol at age 18 is essentially a formality. ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS To mark achievements at school and work. Other important birthdays are the 25th. people invite colleagues and teachers. At business or academic conferences. takes place at weddings before the dinner. Courtesy of Nadine Leick. a vin d’honneur . rather than a rite of passage. may be the occasion for a cocktail. Older teenagers are usually quite accustomed to drinking small amounts of wine as a part of the family meal and alcohols in the form of an apéritif. a vin d’honneur. whose name borrows from the American cocktail party. family and friends.148 Food Culture in France Carrying the birthday cake from kitchen into dining room. or a gathering of business partners and colleagues. Since the 1970s. to a ceremonial apéritif or pot (drink). At 18 one can vote. an occasion to celebrate an entire career. for the quarter-century. A vernissage or gallery opening. and then the decade markers. The 60th birthday often coincides with a retirement party. with speeches and toasts to accompany the lifting of glasses. and drink alcoholic beverages legally.

Special Occasions


may be drunk in tribute to an important speaker or guest, with canapés (light appetizers) to accompany the glass of wine, Champagne, or kir, before dinner. The verb arroser means “to water” or “to sprinkle” and by metaphorical, argotic extension to celebrate with a drink. A person who has just passed an important examination, defended a doctoral thesis, or even bought a new car invites family and friends to an arrosage.

People who have just moved into a new house or apartment invite guests to pendre la crémaillère. The phrase recalls the ceremony of hanging a rack or trammel in the chimney to hold the stock-pot over the fire. This done, one could cook, making the house inhabitable. People usually give parties with a buffet for the pendaison de la crémaillère, both to inaugurate the new place, and to make family and friends feel welcome. Foods are selected according to personal taste and the ease with which they can be served and then eaten from small plates as people circulate around the party. Common buffet items include platters of artfully arranged crudités or charcuterie, bouchées de fromage or savory baked puffs filled with a bit of cheese, salads of greens or grated carrots, hachis parmentier or shepherd’s pie, slices of roast beef served at room temperature, a stew such as a southern daube or North African tagine, fruit salad, wedges of apple tart, and slices of quatre quarts (pound cake) or chocolate cake.

Le Quatorze juillet, or le jour de la Bastille (July 14), is the national holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris at the start of the Revolution of 1789. Only a handful of prisoners were found, but the riot symbolized release from the oppressive shackles of the ancien régime social and political orders. Bastille Day brings tremendous collective celebrations. Cities and towns organize fireworks, défilés (parades), and outdoor concerts and dancing. The immense Paris parade is always televised. Other spectacular events include the fireworks off the picturesque Pont d’Avignon, which dramatically breaks off halfway across the Rhône River. Families and community groups such as volunteer firemen, military veterans, and hunting clubs set up the outdoor barbecue for une grillade, a mixed grill that might include merguez, steaks, and lamb chops. For fun, people improvise foods with the bleu blanc rouge (blue, white, and red) of the flag: cocktails made with layers of strawberry syrup on the bottom, and then mixed vodka and anisette, and finally Curaç ao; scallops


Food Culture in France

garnished with reddish-orange salmon eggs to be served on a bright blue plate; and desserts of blueberries, fruits rouges (raspberries, strawberries, cherries), and cream or fromage blanc. Since the 1980s, events now staged annually such as Youth Day, Gay Pride (also called Euro-Pride or la Marche des fiertés), and the Techno Parade have the proportions and feelings of civic festivals, with parades, music, and plenty of eating, drinking, and revelry out of doors. As in many countries, sporting events such as soccer matches—a national passion— the Tour de France bicycle race, and marathons similarly offer something of the collective holiday experience.

In recent years a great effort has been made to continue or revive traditional regional and agricultural celebrations. Most villages and small towns have a fête votive, fête patronale, fête du pays, or kermesse celebrating the town’s patron saint. The festivals usually take place during the warm months, from May through October. They are fixed to a Sunday closest to the saint’s day, and last a weekend or three days. The festivals often were tied to a communal activity for farming, such as planting, harvesting, or threshing, and many have ancient pagan roots. Today, there is great appreciation for the fêtes votives and also fêtes folkloriques, as they are thought to preserve and teach about local customs including dress, regional styles of dancing, and gastronomic specialties. For a fête patronale or other local occasion, a special mass may be observed in the town church, and vendors set up outdoor markets and flea markets in the main street or square. Other festivals revived largely since the early 1990s are the May and December fêtes de la transhumance. It was customary to drive cows, sheep, and goats up to high ground for summer grazing. The descent back down to lower meadows and plains then followed the harvests. Today, trucks usually move the cattle, but the transhumance festivals are popular again especially in the late fall, when local cheeses made with the summer’s rich milk can be sold. The fêtes des vendanges or des moissons or d’abondance were feasts offered to harvesters to thank them for their work and celebrate the year’s bounty. New versions commemorate the old agricultural calendar and artisanal methods of work. The festivals are of great historical interest and are good for tourism. In recent years, they have also become vehicles for a certain revivalist, nationalist sentiment nostalgic for la vieille France; “old” here means Catholic France.

Special Occasions


Demonstrating the mechanics of a wine press, in Grimaud. Courtesy of Janine Depoil.

On a larger scale, city or regional fêtes are often associated with a special cultural practice, although some of these are of modern vintage. Highlights of the festivals vary according to region. In Nîmes there is bull-fighting, although the bull is never killed, as in Spain. The international film festival takes place each May at Cannes, the theater festival in July in Avignon, and operas are staged throughout the summer in the Roman theatre at Orange. Organized on the model of these cultural festivals, newer fêtes gourmandes organized to promote the patrimoine have flourished in recent years. Local restaurateurs, producers, and the municipal authorities collaborate to stage fairs that focus on local produce, from chestnuts to wine. Manifestations gastronomiques or gastronomic events take many forms, such as a tournée des restaurants where people make the rounds of participating restaurants to sample local dishes. Foires (fairs) have a carnival atmosphere like that of an amusement park. Foires or fêtes foraines formerly were associated with yearly outdoor markets (marchés forains) visited by itinerant merchants and traders. Today, the foires are heavily commercialized. Itinerant carnival workers set up lotteries, games, and rides. Vendors sell grilled merguez placed lengthwise in a piece of baguette, barbes à papa (“dad’s beard” i.e., spun sugar cotton


Food Culture in France

Alain Gontard’s restaurant in La Pacaudière announces an “open table” as part of the local gastronomic festival. The restaurant specializes in duck cookery including foie gras de canard. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact.

candy), nougats, spice bread, waffles, guimauves (marshmallows), and the adored chichi, a long, flat beignet made of yeast dough flavored with orangeflower water and sprinkled with granulated sugar. The mercantile aspect of the old foires is recalled in today’s salons and expositions for producers of wine and brandies. These can be quite fancy affairs with a busy boutique atmosphere. Their attraction is increased by the fact that an invitation card is required for entry and tasting.

Since the 1990s, American customs associated with Halloween on October 31 have been heavily commercialized, and Halloween is now quite popular among children. Adults have had mixed reactions, finding the macabre emphasis on ghosts and skeletons unappealing, but children love wearing costumes and masks, carving citrouilles (pumpkins), and receiving sweets. Halloween celebrations have for the moment overshadowed la Toussaint (All Saints’ Day, November 1), a traditional religious holiday, today one of the federal holidays.

Guy. Jean Dufournet (Paris: Flammarion. 1225). These days are celebrated with a festive family meal. and the fête des Mères (Mother’s Day). the last Sunday in May. ed. 28–9.” Aucassin et Nicolette (ca. NOTES 1. 1984). 2003). “Il avoient aportés/des fromage[s] fres assés/et puns de bos waumonés/et grans canpegneus canpés. 2. . instituted in 1949 as the third Sunday in June.Special Occasions 153 Also modeled after American counterparts are the fête des Pères (Father’s Day). Kolleen M. When Champagne Became French: Wine and the Making of a National Identity (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. The other spouse and the children offer gifts and either do the cooking or treat everybody to an evening out. canto 31.


although meat consumption varied by region. are on the rise. During the . At present. while contributing to the quality of life that is so highly valued. The structured family meal provides nutritional balance and conditions daily eating for most people. the French associate taking the full three-course meal with a sense of well-being and with being in good health. bread. the widely felt need for precautionary and protective measures shapes the response to matters of diet and health. Genetically modified foods and agribusiness practices are perceived as threats to a healthy diet. As in other affluent nations. Across economic classes.7 Diet and Health Abundance and variety have characterized the diet in France since the end of the Second World War. meat consumption increased substantially during the nineteenth century. such as obesity. MODERATION. In cities. BALANCE. and contemporary agricultural and manufacturing practices also create dietary dilemmas. Animal protein was likely to be in the form of eggs. milk. and vegetables from the kitchen garden had been the building blocks of daily meals. but prices fluctuated and the best cuts were quite expensive. legumes. Problems related to overconsumption. In rural areas. or cheese. the modern lifestyle. For some. abundance. grignotage (snacking) replaces or augments the cycle of three daily meals. however. AND PLEASURE The variety of foods that is now available to the broadest swathe of the population has not always been a feature of the diet.

including raw salads and crudités. and vegetable oils used to vary largely by region. animal fats such as lard and goose fat. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are eaten. lamb. inexpensive supply of beef. but consumption has declined in favor of animal proteins and fresh produce. Overproduction and a reliable. Nutrition is only part of the recipe. a diet that is healthy). Culinary quality and sensual appreciation of food are essential to the perception that one is eating well. dairy products.156 Food Culture in France Occupation of the 1940s. on the other. the broad preference for cooking with vegetable oils such as sunflower oil stems from their lower prices. and information about health benefits associated with unsaturated vegetable oils and the Mediterranean diet. and fresh and aged cheeses are very important. including milk. pork. In 1962. Eating a variety of fresh foods is more generally understood as key to une bonne nutrition or une alimentation saine (good nutrition. however. As recently as the mid-twentieth century. and grains made the earlier shortages and fluctuations a thing of the past. The American practices of counting calories and weighing portions would seem quite strange to most people. Dairy products. are equally necessary . Bread retains a strong symbolic importance. Yogurt. on the one hand. rates of alcoholism and diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver were high through the mid-twentieth century. farmers sent their best meat and dairy products off to the German Reich. Wine was long viewed as a healthy. dairy. whether beef. or fowl. The use of butter. Despite this perception. which has been heavily marketed as a healthy way to “eat milk. under the PAC or Politique agricole commune (CAP or Common Agricultural Policy). strengthening beverage and in this sense was seen as quite distinct from distilled alcohols. and variety is precisely what characterizes the full meal with its complement of three or four different dishes.1 The benefits of eating the full three-course family meal are thought of in a holistic fashion. eggs. hunger and diseases that result from dietary deficiencies had not been eradicated. The view that wine is healthful has not disappeared. but consumption of wine has declined. the European Union began giving massive subventions to French grain. Today the centerpiece of most middle class meals in France is meat. Rationing at home allowed for only 1. charcuterie. Conviviality and social connection. The purpose of the assistance was to guarantee a stable food supply.200 calories per day by 1943. eating in the company of friends or family. At present.” is popular. and life expectancy dropped drastically during the Vichy years. Affluence and modernization associated with the Trente glorieuses or Thirty Glorious Years of rebuilding after the war resulted in significant changes. farmers adopted modern industrial techniques. and beef farmers. Using PAC funds.

modération (moderation). The sense of pleasure and balance guide the practical aspects of cooking and serving daily meals. northern Europeans. The very lowest rates of coronary disease were measured in the southwestern Languedoc region.2 Spending time at table and taking pleasure in eating are as important as what is eaten. People use the terms équilibre (balance). and the British. The French. American and French researchers identified a phenomenon they named the French Paradox. such as cheeses and butter. . yet lower mortality rates from cardiovascular and coronary diseases. famous for foie gras and rib-sticking cassoulet. Similarly.Diet and Health 157 ingredients. it was observed. they had comparable or higher cholesterol levels. Relative to Americans. which received extensive coverage in the media. regularly drank wine and ate all sorts of foods rich in animal fats. cannot be discounted. the baked meat and Enjoying a good meal and a glass of wine with friends contributes to quality of life and good health à la française. the respite from the activities of the day imposed by the slow rhythm of the full meal. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. and plaisir (enjoyment) to name the salient features of eating well and harmonieuses (harmonious) to describe the ensemble of practices that go into eating well. such as determining the relatively small portion sizes for individual components of a meal. THE FRENCH PARADOX In the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The health insurance system guarantees women prenatal care. (Lifespan for women is more than 83 years. moderation in all things is recommended. Mineral waters with a high magnesium content are useful against the common problem of constipation. stores. The French diet is varied. At the same time. homes. the longest in Europe.4 Physical activities such as walking have a larger place in people’s daily routines. Midwives commonly deliver babies. People spend more time at table for meals. including a minimum of five required prenatal visits to the doctor.. socializing. Beyond the constant admonition to drink as much plain “pure” (i. vegetables. in addition to meats. Mealtime is strongly associated with relaxation. cheese.) Each of these elements in the diet and lifestyle plays a role in maintaining health. yet they eat less. portion sizes in restaurants. and wine. lacking trace minerals) water as possible. but rather as an enhanced state of health and femininity. was a people eating a dangerously delicious diet. but a régime équilibré (balanced diet) is the order of the day. The rituals of serving and sharing food and of politeness such as finishing up at about the same time as one’s table companions. Making minor adjustments to the diet in response to the changing state of the body during pregnancy is recommended. as this is seen as self-indulgent and quite unnecessary. however. and legumes. Compared with their American equivalents. Pregnancy is not seen as an infirmity. for instance. and recipes are small. and enjoyment. Other factors are important.3 Here. In case of any complication. then. Doctors discourage women from putting on too much extra weight during pregnancy. yet enjoying good health. Most women reduce the amount of coffee and wine during pregnancy to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol. AND BREASTFEEDING Women expecting babies are notorious for having sudden. PREGNANCY.158 Food Culture in France bean stew that is generously enriched with goose or duck fat. few cut these items out of . as well. and 10 weeks of paid maternity leave from their jobs. strong envies (cravings). It includes relatively high proportions of fruits. grains. BIRTH. a hospital stay that lasts four to five days under normal circumstances at the time of the birth. a doctor is called. How was this contradiction to be explained? Various answers have been proposed to explain the so-called paradox. Moderate consumption of wine or other alcohols can play a role in counteracting the effects of cholesterol. tend to prevent one from eating too much. Nearly universal access to high quality health care through the national sécurité sociale (social security) and emphasis on preventive care contribute to the health of the population.e.

people buy petits pots (jars of baby food) or make food at home. hake). such as flowers and bottles of Champagne. if it continues to appeal. There is also a good deal of generalized social pressure to stop at this point. At about six months. Except in the case of a specific health problem or intolerance. These are strictly déconseillés (recommended against). and health. a greater variety of vegetable purées are proposed. such as clothing. cod. and doctors recommend that they stop at three months. it is thought that there is no use asking her to act à contrecoeur (against her wishes). as if to do so might hold back the infant in the earliest stages of development. socialization. The attitude toward feeding infants is practical. there is little stigma attached to choosing against breastfeeding. In this case. an occasion for celebration. It is recognized that breastfeeding a newborn is highly beneficial to the child. such as steaming. boiling. available in the supermarchés. At three months. It is widely felt that to extend breastfeeding any longer is unseemly. a more extreme approach is perceived as fanatical. because in France they bring the risk of toxoplasmosis. Babies and very young children often eat separately from the parents. BABIES AND CHILDREN Initiating children into the rites of the table is essential to their education. continuing to sip a café au lait in the morning. naturally. and perhaps a small glass of wine with dinner. and poaching. Family and friends visiting the new mother and child after they have left the maternité (maternity ward or room) bring gifts for the mother. and tiny quantities of meat or fish: first viande blanche or white meats (chicken. babies are offered purées de fruits. there is recourse to the wide variety of formulas for infants in every stage of development. About half of women breast-feed their babies. honey.Diet and Health 159 their diet entirely. the baby has received the essential nutrients and antibodies from the mother. then beef. in addition to breast milk or formula. yogurt and fromage blanc. who take their meals a bit later. As the baby begins to eat solid food. and eventually . At the same time. veal) and poisson blanc or maigre or white fish that is low in fat (sole. The birth of the child is. in addition to useful items for the baby. relying on the simplest cooking methods that avoid the use of fats. then cereals such as semolina and rice. To continue to breast-feed an infant after three months may also be impractical if the mother must return to work after the 10-week paid maternity leave. If the mother does not want to or cannot. then cooked puréed vegetables. At about three to four months. The exception is raw salads and raw vegetables that cannot be peeled.


Food Culture in France

ham. At about nine months or so, children are offered bread, then eggs. At about one year, fattier fish such as sardines, tuna, and salmon may be incorporated into the diet, along with raw vegetable such as peeled grated carrots and cooked dried legumes such as lentils and haricots. By about a year to 15 months, when the baby can drink cow’s milk, it is thought that the child can eat a full variety of solid foods. The strong dietary prohibitions for babies are against added salt and sugar, foods that are too fatty or strong in flavor, and foods that present extra risks of bacteria or allergens: no pork, horsemeat, game, shellfish, fried foods, peanuts, or spices, and no sweets. To young children (ages three to six years) parents give simple foods seen as easy to digest and appealing to the still-developing palette. The classic child’s meal begins with a potage (soup) made of vegetables boiled in lightly salted water or plain broth, then passed through a moulinette (food mill) or puréed with the hand-held mixeur-plongeant. Potatoes, broccoli, turnips, leeks, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, and artichokes are common soup ingredients. A bit of pasta may be cooked in the soup and a spoon of grated Gruyère added for garnish. Jambon-coquillettes is a favorite children’s meal: boiled pasta such as small shells or elbow macaroni with a bit of butter and mild grated cheese and a slice of jambon blanc (fresh ham, more meaty and less salty than the aged hams). Meat, especially red meat, and beef in particular, is considered important, as it is thought to donner des forces (build strength). It is recommended that children eat meat once each day, and parents enjoin their child to Mange ta viande! (“Eat your meat!”). Small children eat meat that is thoroughly cooked; older children are taught to appreciate beef that is saignant (“bloody,” i.e., rare), as adults do. Butchers grind to order children’s portions of steak haché (ground or chopped beef), which is then loosely patted into a flat oval shape to be pan fried. Escalopes de poulet (chicken cutlets) sautéed in butter or oil are popular. Vegetable purées, enriched with a little milk and a tiny quantity of butter, are essential preparations, along with bread to accompany everything. Food for children is ideally to be nutritious, tasty, and well textured. Soft foods, too many sweets, and too much sugar are avoided. Sodas are viewed as empty calories and are frowned upon. The same is true of fruit juices, seen as overly sugary, and a poor substitute for fresh fruit. In the morning, children are given hot milk or hot chocolate. Later in the day they may drink tisanes (herbal infusions) but no coffee or tea. Older children are expected to sit at table with adults, to eat the same foods that adults are eating, and to be polite and sociable. There is great concern among parents and at the level of the state to inculcate good eating habits in children. Parents want to raise healthy

Diet and Health


children who enjoy a good quality of life and who are equipped to be socially integrated. The state is concerned with public health, as it regulates the health care system and has the economic vitality of the country in mind. In secondary schools, the annual fall Semaine du goût and other initiatives teach children about the country’s culinary heritage and simultaneously present alternatives to la mal bouffe (“bad grub”). Beginning in the 1970s, the term mal bouffe or malbouffe was used to mean fast food and junk food. Now it can refer to any food considered unhealthy, an unbalanced diet, an unreflecting mode of eating. As part of the effort to protect the health of children by encouraging good eating habits, the state has forbidden the sale of soft drinks and candies in secondary schools and mandated that lessons on nutrition and health be incorporated into the national curriculum. Similarly, the state regulates television advertising, seen as exerting a nefarious influence on children’s health and eating and consumer habits. At present, for instance, commercials cannot occupy more than 12 minutes to the hour on television, and televised publicity for tobacco and for beverages containing more than 1.2 percent alcohol is forbidden.5

When care of the seriously ill still was given at home and predominantly by family members, household manuals and most cookbooks included a section with recipes for the treatment of the invalide (invalid or sick person). Today, “pectoral” broths and home remedies such as chest plasters have disappeared, in favor of the modern commercial pharmaceuticals that professional doctors prescribe. There remains little concept of specific foods appropriate for the ill; rather, adjustments are made to the diet overall. As in the United States, serious conditions are addressed with radical changes, such as a lowprotein diet in the case of kidney problems. In a nation of wine-drinkers, the crise de foie (“liver crisis”) was a classic complaint, extensible to nearly any malaise. Today, of course, avoiding alcohol is recommended against the more specific problems of cirrhosis or enzyme imbalance. There is, similarly, little conception of a special diet for the troisième and quatrième âges (third and fourth ages, i.e., retirement and old age: people ages 60 and older and 75 and older, respectively) outside of reducing portions to suit lower activity levels and a slower metabolism. For the minor, day-to-day complaints, smaller adjustments are made. In case of bouffissures or gonflements (swelling resulting from water retention), an effort is made to reduce the intake of wine, coffee, and


Food Culture in France

salty and rich foods such as cheese. For temporary illness affecting the appetite, light and easily digested foods are recommended. Against gastric ills, plain boiled rice and cooked carrots form the menu, and doctors recommend that one avoid green vegetables and salads, until the illness has passed. Purée de pommes (apple sauce) may also be given, as well as broths or light soups. Mineral waters high in magnesium, salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, even a drink of pastis may be taken to improve digestion, and plain yogurt eaten to soothe the stomach and encourage beneficial intestinal flora. Tisanes or herbal infusions are enjoyed as after-dinner hot drinks or before bed, but they are also thought to have specific useful properties: rose hips against colds, chamomile to soothe the stomach, linden as a calming tea before bed. An after-dinner drink such as a Cognac or other fruit brandy is referred to as a digestif (digestive). The small shot of strong alcohol is thought to settle the stomach after a rich or large meal and to promote digestion. Knowledge of the medicinal properties of foods and notions of regulating health through diet are traceable to antiquity. The holistic approach to balancing the diet has its most ancient roots in the Greek theory of the four bodily humors, which had to be balanced through the best choice of foods for an individual’s constitution. Today, the view that connects health and diet through a notion of harmony and balance is completed by the conviction that adequate rest and relaxation, including proper vacations from work, are important for health. As a complement to the maintenance of health through a balanced, harmonious diet, there is also a cachet (gel capsule), comprimé (tablet), or pillule (pill) designed, it seems, for every health problem, no matter how small. That France is a highly medicalized country is due in part to the provisions of the outstanding national medical care. Coverage allows patients to choose their physicians, and it gives physicians great freedom to prescribe medications and tests. Consumer awareness and the ongoing development of new pharmaceuticals, including those to treat complaints such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension that are relatively common in the aging population, further contribute to this trend.6

As in most affluent countries where people have an embarras du choix (a wealth of choice—or too many choices), problems related to eating too much are on the rise. Conditions associated with an overabundant diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle, notably obesity, are becoming

Diet and Health


more prevalent. In 2006, INSERM, the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale or National Institute for Health and Medical Research, estimated that 1 of every 10 children is obese by the age of 10, twice the figure measured in 1980.7 Categorizations of weight as “normal,” “excessive,” and so on derive from the IMC or indice de masse corporelle (BMI or body mass index) established by the World Health Organization’s International Obesity Task Force. The IMC is a ratio calculated to evaluate a person’s weight status. It is defined as weight in kilograms, divided by the square of the height measured in meters. According to this ratio, overweight is defined as having an IMC of greater than 25; an IMC greater than 30 indicates obesity. In France as in the United States, putting on excess weight often results from the addition of snacks to the schedule of regular meals8; from eating for reasons such as boredom or stress, rather than hunger; from eating large quantities of sugar in sweets, processed foods, and sodas; and from a lack of adequate physical activity. Physicians and researchers observe higher incidences of gastric and intestinal disorders, diabetes, sleep apnea, and other conditions associated with excess weight. Overconsumption may bring or manifest psychological stresses, as well, especially as contemporary ideals of beauty for both men and women require a slender ligne (figure). Pathological behaviors related to eating and having psychological causes, such as anorexia and bulimia, slowly increase, along with the sale of weight loss products first developed in the United States and now infiltrating the French market. The progress of afflictions related to overconsumption, although alarming, is slower in France than in many other nations. This is due to the strong traditions of the family meal, to the sense of ceremony that accompanies eating, and to the fact that many families continue to cook regular meals at home and to take regular meals when dining out. In the last decade, the state has adopted an interventionist mode, encouraging, and even requiring, preventive measures as part of regular health care. A carnet de santé (health notebook) is established for each child at birth. The notebook is used to monitor preventable conditions throughout childhood. Doctors note such information as the dates of required vaccinations, any instance of dental decay, and domestic accidents. Since 1995, the notebooks contain a courbe de corpulence (corpulence curve) to track the child’s weight relative to a normal estimate for development based on the body mass index. A departure from the normal range on the curve sounds the alert. For cases of weight gain, doctors advise a modest reduction in portion size to be observed over the long term, avoidance of sweets and eating between meals, and

procuring fresh food directly from a farmer remains an ideal. thus pure. herding and agriculture. an OGM is a plant or animal that has received genetic material from a different kind of plant or animal. corn. respond well to these ideals. At present worldwide. The biggest bugbears are OGM or organismes génétiquement modifiés (GMOs or genetically modified organisms) and other corporate industrial agricultural practices such as the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in meat. Although most edibles are purchased at grocery stores. Human interference with the genetic makeup of foods is traceable to prehistoric times. Most genetically modified crops are grown (since 1994) in the United States. humans began to tinker with the natural selection of characteristics in plants and animals through hunting and gathering. traceable to a specific place and an individual producer. People want the foods that they purchase and eat to be natural and unadulterated for the purpose of commerce or convenience.164 Food Culture in France the encouragement of physical activity such as walking and playing outdoors. for instance. The notion of purity at work here should not be confused with the equally important matter of hygiene or cleanliness. and cotton that contain genes from bacteria providing resistance to herbicides (allowing for or requiring the use of pesticides) or insects (providing resistance to pests). Long before the development of sophisticated techniques for breeding and hybridization. where most processed foods for sale contain ingredients from a genetically modified . and regional particularity. That people pay more for organic items suggests the additional ethical interest in supporting ecologically sustainable and nonpolluting methods of agriculture. the most common transgenic foodstuffs and crops are soybeans. Terroir and the AOC label. artisanal methods. they want to know the origins of what they eat. The expanding market for domestic and imported produits biologiques (organic items) indexes the concern to eat the natural foods that are believed to be the healthiest. Where these and later practices result in modifications within single species. as well as affordable. the cheeses that they carefully craft from raw (unpasteurized) milk. with their references to quality. The French are notorious defenders of the salubriousness and unbeatable savor of. the term OGM refers to transgenic alterations. a feature of organic farming. FOOD SAFETY The safety of the food supply and the reliability of the federal and European governments in its regulation are contemporary preoccupations. however. That is. Ideally.

The Label Rouge (red label) and Certificat de Conformité (quality standards certificate) indicate high grades of meat. as well as a standard of quality. regional product. transgenic foods are rare in Europe. In France and the European Union. In 1997. the European market closed to imported beef raised on growth hormones. the AOC label indicates a typical. rather than pink. such as sheltering young calves from the light. By contrast. In 1999. In 1996. Recent statutes regarding animals and meat give a sense of the strong interest in maintaining a safe. As tens of thousands of cows were put to death. France grows only a few hundred hectares of genetically modified crops. Since the late 1970s. the European Union included a clause in the Treaty of Amsterdam that requires member states to protect the welfare of animals as sentient beings. cows on industrial farms were being fed the remains of other slaughtered cows. For instance. As in the case of wine. In 1998.9 The pervasive mistrust of transgenic foods and industrial farming practices—viewed as unnatural. the human variant of BSE or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. and environmentally harmful— combines with abiding suspicion of the state’s commitment to protect people. such as in the form of bone meal. European Union regulations now prohibit oldfashioned methods for raising le veau sous la mère (milk-fed veal). This transpired shortly after the first known death (in 1995) in the United Kingdom from CreutzfeldtJacob disease. flesh. the spread of the disease was traced to the cannibalistic practice in industrial agriculture of recycling animal waste as feed.Diet and Health 165 crop. designed to produce truly white. administering growth hormones to animals destined to be sold for meat is illegal. animals raised for milk and meat have been carefully tracked. The strong reaction in France and Europe to these incidents and practices helps to explain regulations currently in force. AB stands for Agriculture biologique or organically raised meat. Some of the feed was contaminated. natural food supply in a manner that is also ethical and ecologically sustainable. and the European Union is currently financing studies to understand the harmful effects of hormones and also antibiotics in meat. unhealthy. and as more people died including in France. and debate. and other changes have been enacted. cargo loads of American transgenic soy arrived in France. which in fact largely follow the French system of controls that . the French system was modified to conform to European regulations. and the farmers who grow them are responsible for indemnities. Two incidents that occurred in the mid-1990s provoked extraordinary social mobilization.11 Laws enacted in the 1990s multiplied the quality-control labels for meat.10 Veterinary inspectors make regular visits to slaughterhouses. protest. should other crops accidentally be contaminated by a stray seed or by pollen. That is.

the date by which it is best consumed. In 1998. follows the principe de précaution (precautionary principle) regarding transgenic modification. cooking and eating that define living well à la française.5 percent of nonauthorized OGM for the European market) be indicated on labels for food and animal feed. implemented a ban on the sale of any new bioengineered crops. 2. including specialized consumer interest groups. European rules began to require that the presence even of a small quantity of transgenic organism (0. however. The blanket bans on genetically modified foods have been superseded. Since 2000. Richard. few people are willing to buy transgenic foods. transgenic crops and foods must be proven safe before they are made available to farmers and consumers. L’exception culinaire française (Paris: Albin Michel. 3. People remain aware of the sway that corporate and trading interests exert on the government. seven member states.” Archives des Maladies du Coeur et des Vaisseaux 80 (April 1987): 17–21. maintain a remarkably vigilant attitude.166 Food Culture in France was already in place. and keen to protect the rich traditions of agriculture and artisanal production. J. as testing of old applications continued. the European Court of Justice continues to back countries that wish to ban genetically modified crops if they can demonstrate a health risk. In October 2003. meat sold prepackaged in supermarkets carries an identifying ticket indicating the cut of meat. “Les Français consomment moins d’alcool et de tabac.13 In 2004. Despite the legal ambiguity.12 The current stance regarding OGM is slightly ambiguous. and identifying information for the slaughterhouse where it was killed and processed. like Europe. “Les facteurs de risque coronarien: Le paradoxe français. 2006). France. by the labeling rules that make their presence transparent and that make transgenic products traceable. with the burden of proof for safety resting on producers. The year 2001 saw the creation of the AFSSA or Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments (French Agency for Food Sanitation and Security) to protect consumer interests. According to the precautionary principle. Many people.9 percent of authorized and 0. the place of origin of the animal. effectively putting an end to the old moratorium. Serge .” Le Monde (March 9. Europe began again to approve transgenic crops for importing. and unlike the United States. which is responsible for regulation. L. Against the rulings of other authorities such as the European Commission. Alexandre Lazareff. NOTES 1. 136. 1998). then. including France. Sandrine Blanchard.

” p. Claude Fischler. Marie-Emmanuelle Chessel. . Notes et études documentaires 5166 (Paris: La Documentation Française.” pp. 8. platelets. Risk. 10. Paul Rozin.” p.” p. “Risk. and Matthew Hilton. Ethics. 2004). Hervé Morin. 4. 1989): 39–46 and “Wine. Jo Murphy-Lawless.inserm. Chessel. 5. and Christy Shields. and Serge Renaud. Erin Pete. 6. “Traçabilité.” Psychological Science 14. 2003). 13. “Genetically Modified Foods: Shared Risk and Global Action. Kimberly Kabnick. “The Ecology of Eating: Smaller Portion Sizes in France Than in the United States Help Explain the French Paradox. 2002). 2002) and Manger aujourd’hui (Toulouse: Privat. Enfants. étiquetage et émergence du ‘citoyenconsommateur’: l’exemple des OGM. 12. no.. “Dietary lipids and their relation to ischaemic heart disease: From epidemiology to prevention. CT: Praeger. “Obésité des jeunes” (May 2006). and the French paradox for coronary heart disease. 208 in Chatriot. 11. 182–98 in Alain Sophie Chauveau. 196. and Hilton. 1995).Diet and Health 167 Renaud and M. http://www. and Health Ineqality (Westport.” The Lancet 339 (1992): 1523–26. 225 in Barbara Herr Harthorn and Laury Oaks.” Le Monde (March 21. institutions et politiques publiques en France (1972–2003). Alain Chatriot. 2006). Céline Granjou. 9. Sociologies de l’alimentation (Paris: PUF. “Qui défend le consommateur? Associations. 12 and 55–67. “Monsanto élabore les OGM de demain. and Public Space: The Impact of BSE and Foot-and-Mouth Disease on Public Thinking. 179 in Chatriot. Francesca Bray.. de Lorgeril. eds. and Hilton. Chessel. “Malades ou consommateurs? La consommation de médicaments en France dans le second XXe siècle. alcohol. Le Régime Santé (Paris: Éditions Odile Jacob. 2003). Culture. Monique Dagnaud. Au nom du consommateur (Paris: Découverte. 5 (September 2003): 450–54. 7. Jean-Pierre Poulain. eds. consommation et publicité télévisée.” Journal of Internal Medicine 225 (Supplement 1.” in Harthorn and Oaks.


strong coffee. Café A small. Biscuits Cookies. especially pork. or appetizers. Apéritif A drink taken before lunch or dinner and served with finger food such as nuts. Collation Mid-morning snack for children. Croissant Buttery. Bouquet garni A bundle of fresh herbs dropped into broths and soups to lend flavor during cooking. Café au lait Coffee with hot milk drunk at breakfast. served as a composed salad for the first course of a meal. flaky. Charcuterie Cured meat products. Also a café or coffee shop. Crudités Raw vegetables. Cantine Canteen or cafeteria. Déjeuner Lunch. mid-day meal. Digestif Drink served after a meal. Boulangerie Bread bakery and shop. such as hams and sausages. slim crusty loaf of bread. crescent-shaped breakfast pastry. Baguette Long.Glossary Amuse-bouche Appetizer. . chips.

the plat is the second course. Vinaigrette Oil and vinegar dressing. Poisson Fish. Réveillon Late festive meal served on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve. . Merguez Spicy beef or lamb sausage. Pâtisserie Pastry. Entrée The first course of a meal. Frites French fried potatoes. Viande Meat. Tourte Tart covered with a top crust and usually having a savory filling. Plat Main course of a meal. usually meat.170 Glossary Dîner Dinner. also the cheese course of a meal. such as butter or jam. such as a cooked salad. Pain au chocolat Croissant filled with chocolate. such as spaghetti or elbow macaroni. Stockfisch Salted dried codfish. also the pastry bakery and shop. Foie gras Fattened liver of a canard (duck) or oie (goose). Pâte Pastry dough or bread dough. or infusion. Lard Fresh bacon used in cooking. A great delicacy. Fromage Cheese. Tarte Tart. after the entrée. Pâtes Pasta. like a pie with a bottom crust only. Tartine Bread spread with something. evening meal. Dragée Sugar-coated almond or Jordan almond. Tisane Herbal tea. Goûter Afternoon snack for children. Petit-déjeuner Breakfast. Potage Soup. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) National Institute of Agronomic Research http://www.chefsimon.asso.Resource Guide WEB Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation (IEHCA) European Institute of Food History and Cultures Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) National Institute of Denominations of Origin http://www. AND OFFICES Centre de Recherche pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie (CREDOC) Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) National Institute of Health and Medical Research Chef Simon .com/ Commission Européenne European Commission http://ec. ORGANIZATIONS.

Philippine (1963) by Jacques Rozier. Une affaire de goût (2000) by Bernard Rapp. Carnages (2002) by Delphine Gleize. Le Boucher (1970) by Claude Ministère de la Santé et de la Protection Sociale Ministry of Health and Social Protection Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale Ministry of National Education saveurs et traditions FILMS Adieu. Alimentation générale (2005) by Chantal MAGAZINES Chefs et saveurs L’Hôtellerie Néorestauration Omnivore Papilles 60 Millions de consommateurs Vins.gouv.culture. La Bûche (1999) by Danièle Thompson.172 Resource Guide Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE) National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la Pêche Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing http://www.gouv. Ministère de la Culture Ministry of Culture http://www. Au Bon Beurre (1952) by Jean Recipes http://marmiton. L’Aile ou la cuisse (1976) by Claude Zidi.

Mondovino (2004) by Jonathan Nossiter. La Grande bouffe (1973) by Marco Ferreri. La Cuisine au beurre (1963) by Gilles Grangier. Le Week-end (1967) by Jean-Luc Godard. Mille et une recettes d’un cuisinier amoureux (1996) by Nana Dzhordzadze. Au Petit Marguery (1995) by Laurent Bénégui. . Décalage horaire (2002) by Danièle Thompson. Le Festin de Babette [Babettes Gaestebud] (1987) by Gabriel Axel. Cuisine et dépendances (1993) by Philippe Muyl. Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972) by Luis Buñuel. Chocolat (1988) by Claire Denis. Masculin / Féminin (1966) by Jean-Luc Godard. Mon oncle (1958) by Jacques Tati. Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) by Jacques Becker.Resource Guide 173 Chacun cherche son chat (1996) by Cedric Klapisch. 37°2 le matin (1986) by Jean-Jacques Beineix. Le joli mai (1962) by Chris Marker. Métisse (1993) by Mathieu Kassovitz. La Femme du boulanger (1938) by Marcel Pagnol. La Traversée de Paris (1956) by Claude Autant-Lara. Les Stances à Sophie (1970) by Moshé Mizrahi. Delicatessen (1991) by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Jean de Florette (1986) by Claude Berri. Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000) by Agnès Varda. Vatel (1990) by Roland Joffé. Manon des sources (1953) by Marcel Pagnol and version of (1986) by Claude Berri. Les Quatre cents coups (1959) by François Truffaut. Nénette et Boni (1996) by Claire Denis. Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran (2002) by François Dupeyron. Le Chagrin et la pitié (1972) by Marcel Ophüls.


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3. 6. 165 anise. 1. 163 Anthimus. 2. 152 almond. 139 À la recherche du temps perdu (Proust). 71. 47. 23 AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée). 70–71 aqueduct. 77. 75 Angevins. 140 Aigues-Mortes. 66 ancien régime. 33. 73 Appert. 120. 59 L’Aile ou la cuisse (Zidi). 139 Americas.Index absinthe. 155–56. 141 anniversary. 147 anorexia nervosa. 11. 156 ale. 35–37. 77–78 abundance. 12. recipe. 162–64 accras. 23. 158–59. 3–7. 160 apricot. 106–7. 139 anchovies. 164–66 AFSSA (Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments). 161 alcoholism. 8 Antilles. 73. 33–34. 66. See also dragée Alsace. 32. 129 alcohol. 61. 60. recipe. 148. 13 animal welfare. 18–28 angelica. 121 apple. 43–44. 4 anchoïade. 61 allec. 7. stewed. 150. 16. 17–18. 38. 112–13. 72. 10–13. Council of. 77–78. 9 agriculture. 148–49 Apicius. 62. 12 arbutus. 6 . 6 All Saints’ Day. 77 Algeria. 5 Aquitaine. Nicolas. 77. 4. 52. 11. 164–66 aïgo-boulido. 156. 126. 156. 17–18 amphora. 53 adulteration. 86 appliances. 41. 8. 6. 166 Agde. 11 apiculture. 70–71. 88–90. 132 aïoli. 165 aperitif. 18. 48. 120.

1. 57 blood: in civet de lapin. 113–14 Bleu d’Auvergne. 72 berry. 65 beignet. 151 avocado. 19. 57. 132 bouillabaisse. 83. 2. 19. 48 blueberry. 20–22. 12 Beauvilliers. 114. 24. 22. 7 Barthes. 11. recipe. 62 bass. 27. 75 asparagus. 6. 149. 72 Biarritz. 2 beef.186 Arles. 120. 11. des Causses. Decimus Agnus. 120 Avignon. 51–52 boulangerie. 18.). 62. 66 baguette. 17 Bordeaux. 144. 32–33. 67 Association des Maîtres cuisiniers de France. 3 Athenaeus. 6. 144 army (food). 8–11. 144. 134. 6. Nicolas. 19 Art de la cuisine française au 19e siècle (Carême). 60 beach food. 146–47 bar. 128–29 barbecue. 135. 11. 52. 7. 1 Ausonius. 17. 143–44 Asia. See bread bakers. 47 boarding house. 2 bistro. 6. 47. 10–11. 139 asceticism. 66. Nicolas de. 6. 53 . Jacques. 93. 11.R. 43 bay leaf. 17. 64. 4 Atlantic Ocean. 3. 142. 144 Ash Wednesday. 13. 46. 13. 3. 62. 121–22. 4. 1. 149 barding. 50 barley. 165–66 beer. 7. 9 Benin. 135 bean. 124 Art de bien traiter (L. 8–11. Charles. 157 Beaune. 27 beaver. 120 bagna cauda. 8 authenticity. 152 Belgium. 70 BMI (body mass index). 2. 3. 30 bourride. 95 Boileau. 85 berlingot. 13. 2. 138–41. 147–48 biscuit. 49 brandade de morue. 133 basil. 5 Armistice Day. 119–21 beet. 8. 16. 13. 13. 149–50 Index Battle of Fat and Lean. 6. 143 aurochs. 118 bouquet garni. 50. 43 banana. 5. 70 banquet. 65 baeckeoffe. 6 Aucassin et Nicolette. 66. Antoine. 18 Bonnefons. 58 Attila the Hun. 92 Astérix. 14. 60 bourgeoisie. 143–44 Baudelaire. Étienne. 14 Bocuse.S. 159–60 bacon. Paul. 51. 126 Auvergne. 77 barrel. 71 baby food. 2. 52 Bastille Day. 70–71 bêtise de Cambrai. sausage. 4. 17. 23 Benedict of Nursia. 77. 35–36 Borel. 66 blanquette. 27. 163 boar. 30 artichoke. 128 blanc. 16 Boileau. 119–20. 60 Basque country. 4. 52 brains. 13. 8. Roland. 96. 3–4. 10. 121 birthday.

65. 106–7 bream. 145 caraway. root. 143–44. 165 Cantal. 67 cave painting. recipe. 16 chard. 11 capon. 6. 146 Catholicism. 5 chamomile. 58. 62. 52 Carré de l’Est. 47–48. 72–73. 157 caterer. 11. crêpes. 121–22 Cannes. 10–12 . 11. 146 caramel. 77. 105. Marie-Antoine. 26. 121. 144. 120. 49 calisson d’Aix. 51. 141–42 breakfast. 18. 54. 69 Chantilly. 3 Capetians. 84. 6. Café de Flore. 162 brasserie. 149 calf’s head. 127–28. 12 chanterelle. 3. 112 brewery. 119. seed. cotton. 162 cardoon. 149 charcutier. 24. 139 buckwheat. 77 cardiovascular disease. recipe. 140 Carême. 145 Carnival. 151 cannibalism. 1. 24 cafeteria. 138–39. 77. 3–4. 7. 6. 143 cabbage. 28 BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). 3. 6. See also brasserie Britain. 134. 8. 151–52 Carolingians. 97 broiling. 62. 16. 13. 127–28. 103–4. 107. 54. 22. 4. 56 Cadet de Gassicourt. 3 cauliflower. 56–57 caper. 77 cena. 162 carving. 77 broccoli. 12–14 Charlemagne. 26–27. 76 cassoulet. 96 cassis. 32–33. 131. 92. 12–13. 13. 11–12 Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii (Charlemagne). 120. 67 brochette. 57 Candlemas. 44. 147. 34 Caesar. 64. 17 La Chanson de Roland. Julius. 62–63 bulgar. 108–11. 78 Camargue. 26 cattle. 2. Café Procope. 65 Cabécou. 3. 144. 151–52 canned food. 57. 57 carrot. 4. 4 café. 4. 1 celery. 140–41 charity. 13. Jean Anthelme. 14. 157. 34. 25 butter. 66.Index brandy. 73. 22. 159 Brie de Meaux. 52 breastfeeding. 49. 156. 65. 13. 72 calvados. 131. 147 Champlain. Samuel de. 29–30. 6 Burgundy. 57 Brillat-Savarin. 25–26. 73. 21 charcuterie. 11. 162 Champagne. 14 butcher. 66. 23. Brasserie Lipp. 49. 60 carbonade. 10–12 carp. 76. 41–43. 3. 65. 163 Burgundians. 121–24 cake. 62 Camembert. 165 bûche de Noël. 29 Brittany. 62 bulimia. 6 Celts. 120 bread. 143 187 candy.

9. 14–15. 27–28. 95 cocktail. 11. 56. 58 chef. 30. 3. sour. 60–61. 60–61 chocolate. 71. recipe. candied. 69. 120. 13. 6. 88. 63–69. 12. 159. 158. 118. 60 chestnut. 8. 45–47. 13. 11. 15. 16 critic (food). 71. 78 chausson. 144. 157 Corsica. 86 condiment. 165 Crieries de Paris (Guillaume de Villeneuve). 7. 78 Index colonies. 74. 72 chèvre. 131–32. 119. 59. 156. 131 Columbian exchange. 73 Chauvet. 127. 13. 19. 97–99. 22–24. puffs. 33. 28–29. 161 citron. 160 cholesterol. 162 Cointreau. 64. 61–62. 73. 53. 1 Côte d’Azur. 75. 73. 18 cream. 22. 44. 145–46 Christianity. 2. 9. 147. 129. 143. 1. 118 chicory. 139 cirrhosis. 87–90. 2. 42. 56–58. 112–13. 6. 1 cheese. 23. 68. 15. 13. 139 Club des Cent. 50–51 conversation. dried. 115 confectionary. 144 Cortès. 4. 5 cook. 66. 77 cinnamon. 49–54. 138–39 coffee. salted. 72. 96–97. fraîche. 105. 59. 78. 53 Clermont-Ferrand. 59. 75. 134. 17–18. 74. 13. 16. 89–91 cookbook. 162 cooking school. 112–15. 62–63 Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. 77–78. 91–92 coriander. 17 comfit. 56. 107–10. 159 children’s meals. 2. 72–73 confit (de canard and d’oie). 145 communion. See also beef crab. 27 clam. 19–20. 68. 65 crêpes. 137–42 cider. recipe. 156–57 convivium. 87 cookie. 13. 58–59. 121. 62 coronary disease. 159–61 China. 138. 9. 160 conviviality. 19–20. 145 corn. 130 cow. 157 chrism. 165. apple. 6. 69. 112. 72–73. 48 chive. 30. 111. 71 cranberry. 65 crème: anglaise. 22. 6. 2–3. 6 chervil. 105–6. 15. 156–57 couscous. 135. 66. 52–53. 8–12 Christmas. 30. 7.188 Chartreuse. 146–47. 106–8. 2. 32. 56–57 chicken. 70. 145 . 148–49 cod. 65 childbirth. 71 civet de lapin. 129–30 cooking methods. recipe. 75 chiffonnade. 103. 91–100 cherry. buckwheat. Christopher. recipe. 24. 53 courses (of a meal). 5. 145 compote. 107–8 Cognac. 15. 119. 131. 99–100 croissant. 61 clove. 119 croquembouche. 64. break. 17 Cosquer. 17–18 Columbus. 6. brûlée. 54. 13. 27. 143. Hernando. 160 chickpea. 49. 10 christening. 50 Civil Law Code. 85 chitterling.

145–46 duck. 5 Encyclopédie. 19 La Cuisinière bourgeoise (Menon). 64 feast. 5. 112–15 discount store. 70 cuttlefish. 143–44 189 L’École parfaite des officiers de bouche. 113. Augustin. 61 Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland). 156–57 Father’s Day. 9–10. See agriculture farm subsidy. 121–22 ethics. 11 einkorn. 6. 22 education (taste). See banquet La Femme du boulanger (Pagnol). 1. 57 emmer. 109–11. 77–78. 71 Émile. Benjamin. 52. 67–68. 68 Einhard the Frank. 138–42. 25–26 endive. 13. 145–47 diabetes. 137–39. 153 fava. 26. 69 Dom Perignon. 3. 19. 70. 85 cuisine gastronomique. 70. 70–71 . 149 crusades. 26 Emmental. 121–22. 165–66 fair. 108–9 eel. See venison Deipnosophistae (Athenaeus). 66 festival. 8–9 European Union. 82 disguise (in cooking). 11. recipe. 57 Escoffier. 114 decentralization. 56 Croze. 11. ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences. Denis. 26. 1. 59. See hunger farming. 4 Delessert. 3. 54 dairy products. 12–13. 125 crudité. 66 Enlightenment. 23 Eucharist. 155–56 date. 20. 1 elderberry. 49–51 Easter. 162 Dijon. ou de l’Éducation (Rousseau). 82. 19 Le Cuisinier roïal et bourgeois (Massialot). See also regions deer. 143–44. 50–51. 46. 64 Crottin de Chavignol. 52 egg. 69 dessert.Index croquette. 73 dinner. 23. 95–97 Le Cuisinier (Pierre de Lune). 142 Époisses. 6. 131–32 fasting. 11–14 fig. 23 demi-deuil. red. 6. 10 daube. 5. 13 digestif. 124–25 currant: black. 19 distilling. 9. 103–5. 17. 6. 164–65 Ethiopia. Ministry of Education. 32 fennel. See PAC (Politique agricole commune) fast food. 66. 125–26. 65. 15. 22 Le Cuisinier françois (La Varenne). 77 cucumber. 96. 143–44 fat. 156. 24–27 Epiphany. 10. 150–52 feudalism. 59. 163 Diderot. 22 cumin. 55–58. 3. Auguste. 2. 139 dragée. 37–38. 69–75. 25 Dieppe. 77–78 dog. 69. goose and duck. 51. 31. 66 cuisine du marché. des Arts et des Métiers (Diderot). 151–52 famine. 147 eggplant.

138. 130–31 fork. 18. 5. 159 fouacier.190 fines herbes. 135 French paradox. 69–71. 5 gourmandise. 8. Charles de. 18 goat. 48–49 garlic. candied. 5–8. 157 Font-de-Gaume. 112 goûter. 93 . 111 frog. 145 grenadine. 16 Gaul. 19. See snack grain. 138 Grand-Marnier. 135. 5–8 game. 8–9 goose. 133–34 Ford. 76 grilling. 120 flan. 1. 6. 132 foreign cuisines. 112 gâteau de riz. Nicolas. 3. 75 Fouquet. 71 Grasse. 97. 99 Gruyère de Comté. 58 gourd. juice. 28–29. 6. 58 Guérard. 12 French East India Company. 15. 138. 75 Greeks. 3. 60 Fischler. 2–3. See Battle of Fat and Lean le fooding. 107. 97 gentian. 49–51 gooseberry. 112. 74 grape. 27–30. 147 Galen. 64 garden (kitchen). 114. 63. 1 food fight. Henry. Henri. 74 François I. 62 gaufrier. 9. 125 Gauls. 119. 160 funeral. 68 flour. soup. 25–26. 8 galette des Rois. 20. 140 Index garum. 156. 112. 17 Guérande peninsula. 47. 78 granité. 3. 120. 4. 13. 44 grapefruit. 12. 2. 60–61. 34. 82–83 fruit. 47. 78 Germans. 6. 13. 8. 2. 112 GMO (genetically modified organism). 6. 24. 51–52 flammekeuche. 19 Gargantua (Rabelais). Michel. 71. 140. 3. 6–8. 126 fish. 4. 3 Goths. 78 ginger. 13 gastronomy. 54. 23 guava. 56 Gaulle. 5. 126. 3. 78. 16 fougace. 106. 6. 13 Franks. 5. 2. 164–66 Goa. 57 Guadeloupe. 147. 2. 13. 51–53. 6. Claude. 11. 23 French fries. 11 Gascony. 59 gluttony. See Celts Gault. 9. 21 formula (baby). 146. 53 God and gods. 8 gougères. 134 Grimod de la Reynière. 159 fishing. 11. 122 garbure. 5. 20–21 Framboisine. 70 gamelle. 6–8 gin. 50–51. 66. 43 foie gras. recipe. 29. 25–26. 159–60. 142 Gallo-Romans. recipe. 131 fromage blanc. 144 Le Gobeur d’oursins (Picasso). 71 Goscinny. 157 French toast. 141. 56. 159 frozen food. 10–12 French (language). 17.

7. 50. 58 île flottante. 118. 120. 11. 76. 70 knight. ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (Rousseau). 130. 12–14. 115 hostel. 1 hunting. 46–47 horseradish. 146 gurnard. 13. 33 infusion. 75 house-warming. 49. 61–62. 6. 46. 12. 16. 58–60. 139. 70. 157 lard. 161 herring. 85 India. 49 hedgehog. 156–57. 124–26. 5. 83–84 Guillaume de Tirel (Taillevent). 8. 61 John Dory. 47–48 Lascaux. 71 jelly. 78 kebab. 6. 122. 157–58. 4. 23 herb. 78 herbes de Provence. 72 health. 150–52. 71 Jerusalem artichoke. 14–15 Guinea fowl. 2. 12. 61 harmony. public. 145. 160. 97–99. 50 haricot. 6. 30–31. 54 lardon. 135 Île de Ré. 162 inn. Johann. 6. national. 130–31 import. 74 jam. 13 hops. 49 kiwi. 65. 26 hunter-gatherer. 156–57. 46 hydromel. 4. 60. 2. 26–27. 1. 60 heritage: 109–10. 93 INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale). 48. 66 harissa. 163 Isère. 160–64 heart. 26 juniper berry. 159 Honfleur.Index guide (restaurant). 5 holidays. 73 immigrant cuisines. François Pierre de. 53 Hippocrates. 96 guild. See cuisine gastronomique hazelnut. 75 industrialization. 1 La Varenne. 11. 14 hot chocolate. 14 INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique). 144 Languedoc. 19. 73. 75. 105. 162 harvest. 73 Henri IV. 52 Jordan almond. 4. 15 Les Halles. 71 . 11–12 lamb. 19 lavender. 7. 11 hypertension. 6. 71 Israel. 65 hospital. 49. 152–53 hollandaise. 67. 43. 8–9. 28. 160 hare. 77 horse. 6. 158–59 hospitality. 67. 135. 124–25 Le Guide culinaire (Escoffier). 52 ham. 152 hake. 123. 10 haute cuisine. 162 191 ice cream. 52 Gutenberg. 18. 6. 9–10. 57–58. 66–67 honey. 85 Italy. 149 hunger. 85 Halloween. 74. 13. 11. 1. 137–45. 149–50. 129. 113. 60. 1. 17 Jews. See brochette kidney. 3. See dragée Julie. 64. 34. 19.

73. 66 mackerel. 139 Massialot. 45–51. 61. 78 Martinique. 120 mace. 157–59. 134. 60 Le Havre. 55. 22 Massilia. 19 Lyon. 20–23 Louis XVI. 3–5. 162–63 Molière. 77–78 liver. complaint. 65–66 liberalism. recipe. 93. Frédéric. 18 Lot-et-Garonne. 160 millasse. 156–57 Lille. 15 metric system. 30 lime. 2. 27–28.192 layer cake. 6. 70 Louis XIV. 124–25. Édouard. 162 Mediterranean diet. 31 lettuce. 159–60. 9. 121–22. 77 maize. 13 lemon. 122. 23. 94–95. 152 Malraux. 6. Pierre de. 97 miller. 3. 135 miracle. 57. 108–11. 18. 25. 9. 111. 85. 151 Merovingians. 82 leek. provisionary. 76. 64 Le Play. 9. star rating in. See also foie gras Livre des métiers (Étienne Boileau). 145 milk. 103–5. 150 Marseille. 13. 53 madeleine. 4. 71 Lent. 8. 66. 22 menu. 161. 52 McDonald’s. 73. 2. 5.S.. 99–100. 94–95 merguez. 6. Louis-Sébastien. 156 Mediterranean Sea. 19 lunch. 13. 113. 157 medicine. 26 les Mères. 66. 28 Mexico. 53. 11 millet. 77 monastery. Christian. 3. 143 Martini. 13. See corn malbouffe. 59 Meilleur Ouvrier de France. 10 mint. 13. 11 mise en place. 10. 24 marjoram. 14 . 60 Index market. 22 Michelin guide. 23. 132 meat. 10. 141 Menon. 11. 77 mayonnaise. 165–66 media. 6. André. 6 L. See Marseille Mauresque. 76. 2. 129. 34. 71 linden. 12–16. 162 liqueur. 143–44 lentil. 2. 9. 77 Marivaux. 21–22 Monaco. 16 lobster. marsh. 18 Millau. 62 Leclerc. 128 Mercier. 48. 23. 129–30 Maine. 23 marzipan. 51–54. 146 Loire River. 23. 20. 155–57. 161 mallow. 18 Louis XVIII. 9. 70–71. 20 moderation. 10–11 Le Mesnagier de Paris. 55–56. 6. 76–78. 125 malt.R. 27 lovage. Pierre Carlet de. 95. 100 Middle Ages. 1. 59 mâche. 11. 147 Lebanon. 52 Lorraine. 38 life expectancy. 129. 49. 6. 4. 27. 147 Lune. 92 melon.

13 Napoléon I. 35. 100 Mosella (Ausonius). 85. 6. Hervé. 30 mullet. 156. 6 nun. 54–55. 53 nougat. 53. 14 papaya. 75. 97–98 Numidia. 74. 66. 61 Normandy. 138 PAC (Politique agricole commune). 6 Nantes. 59 nutrition. 1 olive. 10. 6. 72. 6. 121 nationalism. 61–62. 61. 53 Odoacer the Goth. 74. 3. 5–7. 9 193 nut. 16 oursinade. 66. 112 mushroom. 6. 151 nobility. 139 pasta. 160 . 139 orange flower water. 71–72. 69 Muslims. 16. 112 monk. 1. 121 Napoléon III. 57 Muscat. 73 offal. 8. 18 parsley. 59 myrtle. 73. 89 oxen. 141. 14–15 noodle. 162–64 De observatione ciborum (Anthimus). 10. 17 Paris. 145 nutmeg. 164–66 nectarine. 1 Nice. 73 pain d’épices. 27–28. 8 Mossa. 52 Munster. 153 mousse au chocolat. 5 orange. 17–18. 109–10. 73 Mulhouse. 60. 61. 143 Nîmes. 76 oubloyer. 54. 52 oven. 1–2 New World food. 115–16 Opéra. 5. See also oil. 70 Netherlands. 22–23. 121. 120 mustard. 60. 156 pain au chocolat. 143. 11. 77 Normans. white. 50 Pas-de-Calais. 49 mussel. olive. 57 morel. 18 Old Stone Age. 52. 144 Mother’s Day. 9. 13 obesity. 26. 7. 11–12. 62. 161 oats. 9. 118. 7. 59. 120 Paris-Brest. 67 New Year’s. 6. 53. 118 pantner. 74 Orange. 146 Mons. 78 monkfish. 1. 120. 139. 6 partridge. 3. 23.Index Monbazillac. 119 Ojibwa. 141 orgeat. 141 nouvelle cuisine. 22 New Stone Age. 12 oyster. 2. Gustav-Adolf. 6 oeufs à la neige. 3. 8 octopus. olive omelet. 74 Parmentier. 120 onion. 48–49 oil. 71. 19. 70 Niaux. 150 natural food. 11–12 North Sea. 139 panaché. 77 pan bagnat. 11. 57 Morbier. 69 Morocco. Auguste. 144–45 New Zealand. 2. 61. 6. 4. 38. 70. 139. 10.

13. 72. Urban II. 3. 47–48. 6. 65. 1–2 poule-au-pot. 66 peach. 49 . 55 pastis. 32 pennyroyal. long. 24 pea. 104–5. 46. 4. 65. 2. 70–71 pulse. 7. 142. 65. 15. 6. 162 pastry. 139 Picasso. 13. See Greeks phylloxera. 52 pilgrim. 135 prawn. 53 picnic. 59. 110. 15. 70–71 polenta. 15. 112. 112 plum. 51. 3. 152 quail. 3. Malagueta. 6. 115 pike. 12 pork. 72 pissaladière. 59 perfume. 49. black. 59 peppercorn. 24 protectionism. 52. 47–48. 61–62. 120 peasant. green. 17 petit-four. white. 17 pine nut. 64 pumpkin. 10. chili. 28–29. 1. 9. puff. 60 Peru. Pablo. 12. Zaccharias. 33 La Physiologie du goût (Brillat-Savarin). 49 Phocaeans. 73 praline. Gregory III. 166 pregnancy. 132 Procope. cured (see charcuterie) portion size. pigs’ feet. 6 pepper: bell. 64.194 pasteurization. 12. 14 pineapple. 69–74. 158–59 prehistory. 63–64 pot-au-feu. 103. 3. 60 pistachio. 145 patrimony. 29 Picardie. 135 pear. 57 pope: Eugenius IV. 11–13. 6 72 Index pistou. 6. 2. 145–47 pig. 17–19. 59. 25–26. 18. 70. 6. François. 6. 73–74. 9. 47 population. 139. 114 Pouligny-Saint-Pierre. 1–4 preserves. 17–18. 5. 64. 55. 78 Persia. 134–35 pièce montée. 17. 49–51 pound cake. 67–68. 118. Leo III. Marcel. 68. 6 persillade. 72 pharmaceutical. 69 Pernod. 145 Le pâtissier pittoresque (Carême). 129 Provence. 70. 163 Portugal. 70 Pont-l’Évêque. 119. 77 perroquet. 70. 114–15 pottery. 52 pleasure. 25. 107. 60 pizza. 1. 70 peanut. 62 pomegranate. See heritage Le Paysan parvenu (Marivaux). 13 plaice. 161 pheasant. 74 pâtissier. 15 processed food. 126. 139–42 prune. 69. 37 Proust. 46. 56 poultry. 75 Périgord. 18. 6. 132 plague. 77–78. 17. 17 potato. 71 pressure cooker. 145 Le pâtissier royal parisien (Carême). 53 precautionary principle. 10. 90 printing. 157.

104–5. 112 Ritz. 52 quince. 115–16 De re coquinaria (Apicius). 152 salsify. 134 sautéing. 1. 144–45 Saint-Honoré. 162 rosemary. 68 rationalization. 6. coupon. 91–96. 129– 30. 16. 65 scallop. César. 74 Saint-Marcellin. 14 sauerkraut. 59.Index quality: of food. 71 salmon. Jean Jacques. 11. 93 rocket. 62. 6. 59 quenelle. 11 refrigerator. for aïgo-boulido. 57 savory. 164–66 saffron. 8 sardine. Joël. 38. 74 sacrifice. 70–71. 131–32. 16 safety (food). 30–32. 160 Salvian of Marseille. 65 salt. 7. 88. 59 Rabelais. 58. 13–17. 124–26. 60 Savoy cabbage. 70–71 ratatouille. recipe. 3. Nicholas. 20. 65–66. Sadalberga. 61. 149 Rhine River. 3. 26 Roussillon. Marcel. 65. 121. 22. 52. 6. 145 Rome. 35–37. 9. Martin. 71 raspberry. 60 rosewater. 13. 145 restaurant. 124 rouille. 22. François. 70 rabbit. for compote de pommes. 122. 119. 6. 156–57. 6. 62 195 sabayon. 11. 60 saint. 124–28. for soupe à l’oignon. 4–10. 138–41 Revolution (of 1789). 165–66 Renaissance. 4. 147. 58–59. 159. of life. for gougères. 13. 6 rye. chains. 109. 66 rockfish. See also wild rice rillettes. 65 raisin. 71 rue. 70 rice. 112 Savarin. 2. 71. 132–33 rationing. 98–100. 10 rhubarb. 48. 8. 113– 14. 156– 57. for cabillaud à la portugaise. 14–15. 74 roux. for madeleines. 10. 87. 75 rôtisseur. 62. 11 Romans. 56–57 rose hips. 48. 62–63. 8 Roquefort. 16 Rouen. for galettes bretonnes. for blanquette de veau. 138 salon. 144. 165–66. 53 saucier. 11. 52 Roman Empire. 89 regions. 156 recipe. 6. 10. 97 rowanberry. 52. 26–27. 150–52 regulation. paste. 52 Rousseau. 120 sausage. 112. 86. for ratatouille. 30 Rouff. 123 réveillon. 120. 27. Sylvester. 8. 139. 141–42. 68. 117. 48–49 radish. 166 quatre épices. for pompe à l’huile. 57 salad. 125–26. 59 sage. 34–35. 53 . 19. 110–11. 119–21. 140. 3. 67. 50. 8–9. 121 Robuchon.

65–66. 112 Sévigné. See under cod stove. 147. 78 tomato. 111. 23. 139 snipe.196 sculpture (sugar). 32–34. 119 snack. 23 service: à l’assiette. 11 Index strawberry. 115–16. 3. 129. 16. See Jerusalem artichoke supermarket. 18. 34–35. 28. 70–74. 112. 15. 70. 143–44 sickness. 21 shallot. 26 table d’hôte. 49 squid. 76. 145 searing. 46 Taillevent. 74 soup. 160. 124–25. en salle. 6. 125 tavern. 7. 76. 93 Serres. 124 tourism. 65. 28. 81–85 shrimp. 107. 2. 164 Suze. 30. 159 Senderens. 6 sorbet. 121. 112 sea urchin. 1. 30 tarragon. 52–53 semolina. 125–26 testicle. 107. Strasbourg Oath. 6 shellfish. 15. 61. 53 steak-frites. 57. 120 tartine. 120. 65 Spain. See Guillaume de Tirel Talleyrand. 10. 88 Tomme de Savoie. 2. 98. 14 Taylor. 6. 4. 71. 159 supper. 160 sole. 8 Third Republic. 71 Shrove Tuesday. 119 tabbouleh. 68. 70 syrup. 120. 32. 104. 50 socca. 111–12. 30 soda. 64 squab. 119. Olivier de. 119. 115. 54. 115 sustainability. 65. 37. 17. 120 sorb apple. 23. Frederick. 72–73. 66–67. 129 terroir. 5. 139 spinach. 6. 3. ou l’Imposteur (Molière). Tatin. 6. 60 tart. à la française. 25. 96 serviceberry. 160. 165 skate. 60 tomate. 104. 30. 21–22 Taste Site. 71. 118–19 suet. Gall. 49 Tour de France gastronomique (Curnonsky and Rouff). shop. 57 tongue. 78 sweetbread. 6 Seven Deadly Sins. 62 Tableau de Paris (Mercier). 10 stockfisch. 17–18. 70–71 street food. 53–54 shopping. 22–23. recipes. 25. 52. 34–35. 72. 53. 97. 52 slave. 20. 141 split pea. recipes. 130 St. 159. 58–60. 49 Theuderic. 60 sheep. 118 socialism. 49 Syria. 88–89 Strasbourg. 62 spices. 163 snail. 6. à la russe. 132 tea. 140 sorrel. 54 sugar. 75. 17–19. 26 tagine. 120 tartare. 67. 95. Mme de. 141. 156–57. 147. 75 spelt. 22. 150–52 tourte aux blettes. 65 . 122–23 thyme. Alain. 23–24 sunchoke. 23 smoking. beet. 119 Tartuffe. 81–85. 161–63. 46–47.

118 Tunisia. 6 yogurt. 10–14. 59 violet. 76. 121–22. 56. FrancoPrussian War. 85 turkey. 86–87. 159. 78 Versailles. 59. 104. 3 UHT sterilization. 13. 76 Vercingétorix. 96 walnut. Napoleonic Wars. 65–66 vinegar. 123 Vatel. 11. 13. 126. 156 Trésor gastronomique de la France (Croze and Curnonsky). 109–10. 55 United States. 49 Troisgros. 65 watermelon. 165. 89–90. Guillaume de. 3–5. 120–21 transhumance. 44. 138 turnip. recipe. 85 zucchini. 6. 165–66 trade. 17. 150 transubstantiation. 4. 21. 163 wrasse. 46. 20–21 veal. 68 . 3. 47 Le Ventre de Paris (Zola).Index toxoplasmosis. 71 wedding. 5 vermouth. 4–6. 1. 7. 71. 155–56 water. 30–31 utensil. 143–44. 9. 10. 140. 125 tripe. 10–11. Claude. 125. 14–15 vichyssoise. 94–95 woodcock. 2–5. Hundred Years War. 16. 50 worker. 75 VAT (value added tax). 65–68. Émile. 122. 113–14 Véfour. Claude Uderzo. 13. 65 UCO (Unidentified Comestible Object). 132 Zola. 43–45. 20–21 Vaux-le-Vicomte. 61 turbot. 11. 23. 15 wheat. Second World War. 85 verbena. 98 Zidi. 67–68. 45. 134 vending machine. 16 vinaigrette. 157–59 women. 106. 6. 52. 18 wine. 52 Troyes. 49. 113. 6 197 waffle. 162 vanilla. 161 whale. 2. 69 tuna. 162 vegetarian. Michel. 121. 108 venison. 71 war: Battle of Fat and Lean. 164–66 urbanization. 4–5. 162 watercress. 28. 160. 113–15 Week of Taste. 5. 78 trout. 8. 5 Villeneuve. 26. 27 vegetable. 61 whiting. 6. 128–29. 23 Le Viandier (Guillaume de Tirel). 9 Trente glorieuses. 1. 16 waiter. 93. 138. 119. 5. 2. 24–25. See also Fischler. First World War. 75 Visigoths. 31–32 World Health Organization. 158. 120. 8. 37–38 train. 17–18. 6 truffle. 60 Vienne. François. 162 young cuisine. 145–47 weekend. 52 Turkey. 33–37. 52 wild rice. 97. 156. 98 trou normand. 159 traceability. recipe. 160 vacation.


Norman. .ABOUT THE AUTHOR JULIA ABRAMSON is Associate Professor of French at the University of Oklahoma.

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